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Server-Side Blocking: Characterizing and Measuring Service Provider’s Discrimination

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Current efforts to understand nation-state censorship often neglects the existence of server-side blocking, when private companies such as VPN providers, content delivery networks (CDNs) and other server operators, prevent content they host from being accessed by users in certain remote locations.

The magnitude of this blocking is unknown, and it is not clear how much this phenomena affects the accuracy of current censorship studies. The project will develop scientifically rigorous measurement methods to detect server-side blocking, build a system to continuously and globally collect data on the phenomenon, curate tools for mapping and comparative analyses of the data and provide the raw data and relevant analysis in a centralized and easily accessible repository. The project outputs will shed light on the traffic manipulation and discrimination of users (i.e., blocking content) using these technologies and services and help censorship measurement better isolate the effects.

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Current project status

Just an idea (Pre-alpha)
It exists! (Alpha/Beta)
It's basically done (Release)
People use it (Production)

Funding to date

2017 $250,000 6 months
Internet Freedom Fund

Total Funding: $250,000

Addressed problems

  • Blocking, filtering, or modification of political, social, and/or religious content (including apps)
  • Policies, laws, or directives that increase surveillance, censorship, and punishment

Objective(s)

  • Software or hardware development
  • Research

Beneficiaries

  • General public
  • Activists
  • Journalists
  • Advocacy groups/NGOs
  • Academia
  • Technologists

Region(s)

  • Global

Technology attributes

  • Web application