OONI Partner Gathering 2017

Recently we hosted the first OONI Partner Gathering.

This two day event was hosted at the University of Toronto on 10th and 11th July 2017.

The event brought our international partners together to share skills, knowledge, and research findings on the study of internet censorship. It also provided us the opportunity to reflect on our collaboration over the last year, and to develop strategic goals and priorities for the next year(s).

Learn all about the OONI Partner Gathering through our report.

Publisher: Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)

Publication date: 24th July 2017

#EgyptCensors: Evidence of recent censorship events in Egypt

Starting on May 24th, the Egyptian government ordered ISPs to block at least 21 news websites on the grounds of “supporting terrorism and spreading lies”. In an attempt to understand which sites were blocked and how, ooniprobe network measurement software – designed to examine internet censorship – was run in three local vantage points in the country.

So far, we have been able to identify and confirm the blocking of ten news websites, including madamasr.com, aljazeera.net, and eight others. It remains unclear to us though if all ten sites have been blocked under the Egyptian government’s recent order.

Unfortunately, we also found access to censorship circumvention software to be blocked as well. Link Egypt appears to be blocking access to the Tor network, though it appears to currently be accessible from the Telecom Egypt (TE) and Vodafone networks. We also found torproject.org, the Tor bridges website, and even our own site (which enables users to measure internet censorship) to be blocked in some networks.

Through the collection and analysis of network measurement data we were able to determine that Egyptian ISPs are using Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to RESET connections to sites.

Read the report here.

Publisher: Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) & Access Now

Publication date: 19th June 2017

OONI – Descubriendo la censura en Internet en todo el mundo

I wrote this post about OONI in English and it was translated to Spanish.

Read the post (in Spanish) here.

Publisher: Oficina Antivigilancia, Coding Rights

Publication date: 5th May 2017

The State of Internet Censorship in Indonesia


New OONI network measurement data collected from 21 local vantage points confirms the blocking of 161 websites in Indonesia between 22nd June 2016 to 1st March 2017. Indonesian ISPs appear to be implementing block pages primarily through DNS hijacking.

Vimeo and Reddit were found to be blocked in some networks in Indonesia, even though their ban was lifted more than two years ago. A popular animal rights site was also found to be blocked , possibly because it was mistaken for a pornographic website due to its domain (peta.xxx). These cases raise the need for oversight , to prevent ISPs from blocking content at their own discretion and to ensure that sites are unblocked after bans are lifted.

Under the MICT’s 2014 decree, however, Indonesian ISPs are granted the authority to ban “negative content” at their own discretion, regardless of whether such sites are included in the MICT’s official Trust Positif blocklists. This excessive authority granted to Indonesian ISPs may explain why many different types of sites were found to be blocked across different networks.

Multiple sites expressing criticism towards Islam were found to be blocked, possibly under Article 156(a) of Indonesia’s Criminal Code which prohibits blasphemy against religions. Even though Indonesia’s government announced that it would primarily be blocking sites hosting pornographic materials and gambling applications, we found numerous other sites to be blocked as well.

These include:

Interestingly enough, we also found sites (web forums and e-commerce sites) that are no longer operational to be blocked nonetheless.

Many of these censorship events indicate that their implementation was influenced by social and cultural norms , especially since the legal justification behind the blocking of many of these sites remains unclear. This raises the need for transparency and accountability to ensure that the implementation of internet censorship is legally proportionate.

Network tampering was detected across 10 different Indonesian ISPs, possibly indicating the presence of middleboxes that could be responsible for internet censorship, surveillance, and traffic manipulation. A middle box was detected in the Telekomunikasi Indonesia (AS17974) network. While it’s unclear if this specific system was used to implement internet censorship, it’s worth emphasizing that most measurements collected from this network presented signs of network tampering, and that this ISP served block pages for many of the sites that were tested as part of this study.

On a positive note, the Tor network, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp appear to have mostly been accessible in Indonesia throughout the testing period.

Read the full report here.

Read a Tor blog about the report here.

Publisher: Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) & Sinar Project

Publication date: 23rd May 2017

The State of Internet Censorship in Myanmar

Out of 1,927 sites that were tested for censorship in six local vantage points in Myanmar, only five sites presented signs of TCP/IP and HTTP blocking, including the sites of the U.S. embassy in Myanmar and of the Organization of American States (OAS). The motivation and justification behind the potential blocking of these sites remains unclear. No block pages were detected as part of this study that can confirm cases of censorship.

Similarly, no middle boxes were detected as part of this study. Blue Coat software (some types of which can potentially be used for internet censorship and surveillance) was previously detected in Myanmar by OONI in late 2012. Extensive tests though performed across six different networks in Myanmar show that Blue Coat software didn’t appear to be present during the testing period (25th October 2016 to 28th February 2017), indicating that it may have been removed.

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and the Tor network appeared to be accessible across all six networks in Myanmar where OONI tests were run.

Read the full report here.

Publisher: Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), Sinar Project, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO)

Publication date: 29th March 2017

Examining internet blackouts through public data sources

Pulling the plug on the internet is one of the ways that governments around the world attempt to exert control over the flow of information.

While the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) project has developed numerous software tests for examining different forms of internet censorship (such as the blocking of websites, instant messaging apps, and censorship circumvention tools), we currently do not have tests that are designed to examine internet blackouts, when the internet as a whole is rendered inaccessible within a location.

Over the last months we received many reports relating to internet blackouts in various countries around the world. In some of these countries we had probes running OONI tests, but merely asserting that an internet blackout had occurred just because we stopped receiving measurements probably wouldn’t have been accurate. As such, we started to refer to other public data sources that could help us gain a better understanding of potential network disruptions in countries where internet blackouts were reported by locals.

In this post we outline some basics from our methodology when examining internet blackouts through public data sources.

Read the post here.

Publisher: Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)

Publication date: 28th March 2017

The State of Internet Censorship in Thailand

New OONI data reveals the blocking of 13 websites in Thailand across 6 different ISPs, between 6th November 2016 and 27th February 2017. Thai ISPs appear to primarily be implementing censorship through DNS hijacking and through the use of middle boxes (HTTP transparent proxies) which serve block pages.

The blocked sites include:

  • News outlets (nypost.com and dailymail.co.uk)
  • Wikileaks.org
  • Anonymity and censorship circumvention tool sites (e.g. hotspotshield.com)
  • Pornography

Since these sites were not found to be blocked across all 16 ISPs where tests were run, service providers in Thailand may be in a position to filter online content at their own discretion.

Read the research report here.

Publisher: Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), Sinar Project, and Thai Netizen Network

Publication date: 20th March 2017

New ooniprobe mobile app: Measure internet censorship & performance!

Today the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) project is thrilled to announce the release of a new mobile app (“ooniprobe – Measure Internet Censorship & Performance”) that can now be installed on Android and iOS for testing Internet censorship and network performance.

Read the post here.

Publisher: Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)

Publication date: 9th February 2017

Tor at the Heart: Security in-a-Box

More than ten years ago, Tactical Tech and Front Line Defenders started providing digital security trainings for human rights defenders at risk around the world. Soon thereafter, they created Security in-a-Box to supplement those trainings and to support self-learning and peer-education among those defenders.

Security in-a-Box offers general advice and practical walkthroughs designed to help its users secure their digital information and communication by choosing the right software and integrating it into their daily lives.

Read the post here.

Publisher: The Tor Project

Publication date: 31st January 2017

Tor at the Heart: OONI Highlights from 2016

The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) is a free software project under The Tor Project that aims to uncover internet censorship around the world. Recently we published an overview of OONI which can be found here.

Today we are providing some OONI highlights from 2016. These include our research findings in collaboration with our partners, and the new features we have developed and released to meet our users’ needs.

Read the post here.

Publisher: The Tor Project

Publication date: 22nd December 2016