The Berkman Center is pleased to release three new publications as part of our circumvention project. Over the past two years, the Center has carried out a number of research activities designed to improve our understanding of the knowledge, usage, and effectiveness of circumvention tools as a means to promote access to information online in repressive online environments. In addition to earlier papers on circumvention tool usage and the circumvention landscape, this research has resulted in three new publications:
The Evolving Landscape of Internet Control by Hal Roberts, Ethan Zuckerman, Rob Faris, Jillian York, and John Palfrey This paper summarizes the results of the studies we have undertaken in order to better understand the control of the Internet in less open societies. It provides an overview of our research in the context recent changes in the methods used to control online speech, and some thoughts on the challenges to online speech in the immediate future.
International Bloggers and Internet Control by Hal Roberts, Ethan Zuckerman, Jillian York, Rob Faris, and John Palfrey Infringements on Internet freedom, particularly through Internet filtering and surveillance, have inspired activists and technologists to develop technological counter-measures, most notably circumvention tools to defeat Internet filters and anonymity tools to help protect user privacy and avoid online surveillance efforts. However, despite the perceived importance of this field, relatively little is known about the demand for and usage patterns of these tools. In December 2010, we surveyed a sample of international bloggers to better understand how, where, why, and by whom these tools are being used.
Circumvention Tool Evaluation by Hal Roberts, Ethan Zuckerman, and John Palfrey This paper evaluates 19 circumvention tools tested in five countries. In this report, we focus on questions of utility—the ability for a tool to be installed and used in a particular location, and the accuracy and speed of the tool. Additionally, we address concerns about security, usability and openness when appropriate.
Drawing on background research, meetings with tool developers, consultations with experts, interviews with users, structured surveys, and technical evaluations, these publications help improve our overall understanding of the role of circumvention tools in promoting greater Internet openness.
We are grateful for the participation of Global Voices Online and for the work of those who translated our blogger survey into more than a dozen languages. We offer our special thanks to the bloggers that participated in the survey.