The Internet Policy Observatory is currently working with research partners on the following projects:

Global Network Interference Detection over the RIPE Atlas Network

Collin Anderson, with support from the IPO, worked with a team to develop a new methodology for monitoring blocking and censorship events across the world utilizing the widely-deployed RIPE Atlas platform. The resulting paper, published in the Free and Open Communications on the Internet 2014 Workshop, utilizes the methodology to investigate blocking events in Turkey and Russia, providing evidence of cooperation between various private and government actors to block content. The team has also launched a web platform to provide an open source version of their code. Click here to read the full paper.

 

Internet Regulations in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan: Internet Policy Development in Central Asia

In the past few years, Internet infrastructure and legislation in Central Asian countries has been developing rapidly. However, Central Asian countries still face multiple challenges with Internet development, including digital inequality, civil society development, independence of local media, and a changing regulatory environment. Today Central Asia is at a crossroad in developing its own norms and policies of Internet regulation, balancing between local political, cultural and economic interests, the effects of Russian Internet legislation and International standards of Internet policies. Each of the Central Asian countries is now in the active process of formulating its own standards and Internet politics, while a universal concept or plan for Internet Governance and legislation has yet to be developed.

This study focuses on two Central Asian countries – Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, taking a closer look at their political and cultural contexts affecting the formulation of local Internet Governance approaches. This research aims to study the specifics of Internet legislation in these countries, analyzing the role that local government, the corporate sector, media and civil society has played in the formulation of local Internet policies. The research will also help to better understand the influence of International norms and Russian Internet legislation on Internet governance policies in Central Asia.

We invite local internet experts, media specialists, government officials, and academic researchers to participate in expert interviews and focus groups in the course of this project.

 

Internet Policy Formation in Latin America: Understanding the Links Between National, Regional and Global Dynamics

The IPO has partnered with the Center for Technology and Society at the University of San Andrés to write a comprehensive report on internet policy formation in Latin America. This report will examine the stakeholders, institutions, and mechanisms for policy coordination in internet policy structures in Latin America. It will also explore how institutional models from other countries (such as Brazil’s multistakeholder model) are being replicated across the region, how domestic debates are being articulated with relation to the conversations occurring globally (at the IGF, WSIS, ITU, ICANN), and the institutional architecture and legal conditions for internet policy in the region.

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Research Study on Government Ordered Network Disruption in Pakistan

The IPO is teaming with the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Bytes for All Pakistan to engage in research to study how government ordered network disruptions technically work in Pakistan. Researchers will be analyzing how Pakistani government bodies interact with private actors (Pakistan ISPs, mobile operators, and other stakeholders) in order to coordinate internet shutdowns in Pakistan. This study seeks to determine the following questions:

  • How does the public in Pakistan use the internet, how is this affected by socio-economic status and geography
  • What are the beliefs and opinions of the public about the internet in general, online content
  • What are the public’s beliefs and opinions about censorship, privacy, surveillance on the Internet? How knowledgeable is the public about internet policy issues on the national stage? How relevant are these issues to the everyday lives of the public?

The purpose of the study, the first of its kind, is to gather and present data on the impacts of mobile and internet shutdowns in Pakistan, and on human rights issues such as health, education, and work. The government in Pakistan has often required companies to shut down access to the internet or mobile communications in the interest of public safety and security. This study aims to assist the government and telecommunication companies in developing strategies that are consistent with commitments to protecting human rights and ensuring public safety and security without compromising access to communications. The telecommunications company Telenor Pakistan has agreed to be the subject of the case study, which will reflect on and examine the challenge for businesses when faced with network shutdown requests from governments.

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The Geopolitics of Search: Baidu Goes Global

Sarah Logan, the Digital Technologies Research Fellow in the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University has been commissioned by the IPO to conduct fieldwork in China and Vietnam focused on the expansion of the Chinese search engine, Baidu, into markets outside of China. This research will result in a final paper focusing on how Baidu’s search and social products outside of China frame the user’s experience in terms of political content, how Baidu cooperates with state censors outside China, the Internet-related norms that China attempts to export through Baidu, and a comparative look at Baidu’s operations in China and in Vietnam. To read Dr. Logan’s blog post describing this project, please click here.

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Internet Governance in Latin America: Multi-Stakeholderism and Free Trade Agreements

Professor Celia Lerman and the Law School at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos, Aires Argentina are collaborating with the IPO on two separate research projects. In the first, the Torcuato Di Tella team will conduct a study on the “multi-stakeholder” model of internet governance as it is related to the theoretical foundations and historical development of deliberative democracy in Latin America. The resulting report will provide a critical overview of how deliberative democracy works out in practice in the Latin American context, and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this model in the context of national and global internet governance.

The second study will analyze the impact of free trade agreements on internet policy in Latin America. This project will attempt to understand how free trade agreements have dictated Intellectual Property protections in Latin American countries, the effects on local country-code domain name systems and dispute resolution mechanisms, and how FTAs might have resulted in policies that are inadequate for domestic legal systems. The study will also analyze how FTA agreements have affected the debate over internet governance in Latin America as well as the effects of the hybrid legal regimes that result from the importations of external IP law in the context of local legal cultures. This report will also provide the potential problems and possible solutions associated with this phenomenon.

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Towards a “Developmental” Internet in Africa

The IPO has commissioned Frederick Golooba-Mutebi (a Ugandan-based independent researcher) and Iginio Gagliardone (a Research Fellow in the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford) to examine whether and how a distinctive “developmental” model of the internet is emerging from Africa that results from the confluence of national and international actors, funders, discourses, and technological possibilities. The project will examine this model through a structured comparison of the development of internet policies in Ethiopia and Rwanda.

 

Stakes are High: Essays on Brazil and the Future of the Global Internet

The NETmundial meeting in Brazil brought  together internet policy stakeholders from around the world, and may prove to be significant in terms of redefining global approaches to multistakeholderism in internet governance, in terms of governance of ICANN and in terms of establishing a set of standards for domestic internet regulation. Given what was at stake, IPO commissioned a set of papers that examine how different interest groups are preparing for the meeting, how governments are interacting, and how the issues in Brazil relate to larger global issues, including surveillance and privacy. In this commissioned volume of essays, Ellery Biddle (Center for Democracy and Technology) and Ronaldo Lemos (Center for Technology and Society at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas School of Law in Rio de Janeiro) will serve as the coordinators and editors of the volume in partnership with the IPO editorial team. Click here to read the volume.

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Mapping Multistakeholderism in Internet Governance: Practical Implications for African Policymakers

Research ICT Africa is collaborating with the IPO team to map multistakeholderism in Internet Governance in Africa.  Through this project, Research ICT Africa will be conducting a survey among African internet policy stakeholders to explore the structures and processes for Internet governance. This survey will then be used to inform a policy paper that will present research findings as well as policy recommendations for African policymakers. This research will seek to answer the following questions:

  • What should a decentralised and open Internet governance process look like from an African perspective?
  • What are the critical, non-specific Internet governance factors that determine Internet governance outcomes?
  • What are the preconditions for the successful expansion of the Internet?
  • What ICT policies at a national, regional and continental level enable the Internet sector to flourish and expand in Africa?
  • How can we build enabling states that will create the conditions for an African private sector and civil society to grow?
  • What are the necessary conditions for the emergence of an African Internet industry that will eventually fully participate in and shape an African Internet governance agenda? 

Click here to read more.

 

Mapping the Landscape of Internet Policymaking in India:

ITforChange, an NGO in India working on information society theory and practice, is working with the IPO to write a special report on the Internet policymaking landscape in India. This report will map the actors (state and nonstate) involved in internet policymaking in India, the mechanisms of coordination, the influence of the external policymaking environment on Indian Internet policy, the national perceptions of internet policy issues, the shifting dynamics surrounding major internet policy issues, and the future direction of India’s institutional internet policymaking landscape.

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Monitoring Internet Policy in Myanmar

IPO is working with with Dr. Andrea Caldararo from the Centre for Media Freedom and Media Pluralism at the European University Institute to conduct research on the development of Internet policy in Myanmar, as the country moves out of isolation and begins a new era of reform. Dr. Caldararo will be conducting fieldwork in Myanmar in order to analyze the telecommunication reforms happening in Myanmar with particular attention paid to the development of Internet policy in the country and the role of outside private actors in this development. The research project will result in a final report, which will analyze the effects that these foreign-owned companies have on the development of telecommunications and Internet policy in the country, as well as the role of local actors, within the context of the changing political and regulatory environment in Myanmar. Read more about his research by clicking the links below.

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What Balkanizes the Internet: Access Denied or Access Unwanted

Harsh Taneja and Angela Xiao Wu have been commissioned by the IPO to analyze the pattern of usage of the top 2000 web domains from 2008 to 2012 in order to examine the extent to which cultural preferences and factors such as language or geography affect the balkanization of the Internet through the creation of culturally defined Internet markets (as opposed to internet balkanization due to strategic internet filtering). Specifically, they will examine the shared audience traffic through network analysis in order to calculate the extent to which websites from different countries are isolated from the rest of the World Wide Web. They will attempt to explain these isolations by describing and analyzing the level of online filtering, cultural factors such as language and geography, as well as internet penetration levels in each country. They will then focus their examination on the cross-national comparisons between China, India, South Korea, and Japan.

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The Socio-Economic Impact of Internet Policy in India (State of Uttar Pradesh) from a Local to Global Perspective

Pradeep Kumar Misra (M.J.P Rohilkhand University, India) is working with the IPO to enagage in research analyzing the ongoing policies, efforts, practices and strategies of the central and state government to promote internet access in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Uttar Pradesh (UP), with the highest number of internet connections in northern India but with an extremely low internet penetration rate of less than 2 percent, serves as a fitting case study to analyze existing local internet policies and practices in India.

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Chinese Internet Foreign Policy: A History and Mapping

 Leshuo Dong (Tsinghua University/American University) will be working with the IPO to publish a series of short analytical reports focusing on the history and development of Chinese foreign policy with regards to the Internet. Leshuo Dong will be reviewing the existing literature and legislation surrounding Chinese internet policy as well as conducting interviews with key Chinese officials, civil society organizations, and business representatives. These short reports will be posted on the IPO website and CGCS blog and will center on the following questions:

  • How has Chinese Internet Foreign Policy developed in the past 10-20 years?
  • What are the key discourses and frames that have been developed over this period?
  • What model has China developed for the governance of the Internet at an international level and how does it articulate this model in global debates?
  • Which Internet-related business practices, norms and concepts does China attempt to export?
  • Are these practices, norms and concepts exported uniformly across the world, or are there differences between different countries or regions?

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A Primer on the Multistakeholder Issue in Internet Governance

The term “multi-stakeholder” is probably one of the most important and, at the same time, least understood terms in internet governance. The term signifies what is a technical reality – that the internet was not created by governments, but by civil society and the private sector. It is also a term that has provided legitimacy to a host of different institutions currently engaged in internet governance. However, the legitimacy bestowed by the term is contingent on its exact meaning, and therefore the changes in the implied definition of the term can have serious consequences in how the internet is managed. Alexander Klimburg, Fellow and Senior Advisor at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs, has drafted a white paper primer on the multistakeholder issue to provide a linguistic approach to better map existing “multistakeholder” definitions within the context of a specific internet governance framework – in this case, the Internet Governance Forum (lGF). This white paper examines the following questions:

  1. What is the level of detail that is used for describing the nature of the relationship between  the various internet stakeholders that have been identified?
  2. Are there any differences in the strategic or normative dimensions of the “multi-stakeholder” definitions used in the context of internet governance?
  3. Is the range of entities included as stakeholders implied by the definition, and, if so, is this range relatively wide or narrow when compared to other definitions.

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