As an ICFP Fellow hosted with OONI, Gurshabad studied decentralized controls for censorship in India, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Gurshabad’s research, hosted at the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), examined jurisdictions with decentralized information controls. In these countries, internet service providers (ISPs) and other infrastructure providers are responsible for implementing government orders for censorship. ISPs’ technical and policy decisions can exacerbate or minimize the effect of state-directed censorship.

The project uncovered how ISPs in India are engaging in arbitrary blocking of websites, and using opaque techniques of blocking that hide critical information from internet users. Gurshabad also studied the efforts of authorities in Pakistan to centralize infrastructure for censorship, and the effects of Indonesian regulations that allow ISPs to block websites at their own discretion. The research is summarized in this blog post.

Gurshabad also co-developed an assessment framework for ISPs, to be used by civil society organizations in Asia to advocate for human rights-respecting decision making for ISPs. To strengthen the security properties of network protocols so that they are more resistant to censorship from governments and private actors, Gurshabad also worked on considerations for human rights when designing internet protocols. Gurshabad recently produced a summary of their work and research on online censorship in Asia.