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New OTF-Supported Project: OONI

| By: Dan McDevitt

OONI is a censorship detection research platform

Increasing levels of Internet censorship activity by authoritarian actors have heightened the need for robust censorship detection tools. Without knowledge of what is being blocked or the underlying technical means for doing so, those developing access tools for censored users lack a necessary understanding of of the adversary’s capabilities and know-how, and how to overcome those hurdles.

Recognizing this, OTF provided support to the OONI project in 2012, our first year of operation. This assistance helped create numerous tests that could be run by technical users to identify censorship as well as the underlying methods employed therein. This technique was used by OTF in our Myanmar and Vietnam ICT reports, and since that time OONI has continued to expand its suite of testing tools to include emerging methods of censorship and more targeted blocking such as on messaging platforms.

These advances have enabled OONI to gather evidence on Internet interference across the globe. In just the past few months, OONI has done testing around Internet disruptions in Turkey, the blocking of social media in Uganda, and the blocking of WhatsApp in Brazil. OONI also recently launched OONI Explorer, a platform to visualize censorship events around the globe.

This is only a microcosm of the growing activity around Internet censorship detection. Indeed, the Department of State recently posted a solicitation explicitly focused on “Online Censorship Measurement to Support Internet Freedom.” OTF is excited to provide support for the OONI project and work closely with other Internet freedom funders to increase support for projects transitioning from initial research into active development and deployment of censorship detection tools.

Projects Mentioned