As a Senior Information Controls Fellows, Jeffrey Knockel collaborated with the Citizen Lab to document censorship on popular applications in China and develop new methods for side channel network measurements.
Most recently, Jeffrey co-authored a report revealing significant security vulnerabilities in the popular Baidu browser. Prior to that, Jeffrey also worked extensively to highlight Chinese censorship methods, including on popular social video platforms. He reversed engineered the four most popular social video platforms in China (with more than 1 billion registered users combined) to show how keyword censorship operates on them. In one platform (YY) he also found keyword surveillance. The findings show inconsistencies in the implementation of censorship and the keyword lists used to trigger censorship events between the platforms.. These results provide evidence that there is no monolithic set of rules that govern how information controls are implemented in China. The research collected a dataset of 17,547 unique keywords from the four platforms used to trigger censorship, which is the largest dataset of censorship keywords currently available. Jeff presented his findings at the 2015 USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI). The paper’s co-authors included Jason Q. Ng. Jeff also worked on developing network side channel techniques for measuring Internet censorship. This work raises open ethical questions that Jeff and his co-authors address in a paper published at the at Workshop on Ethics in Networked Systems Research.