After the IGF 2013—Bali barely relevant in the run-up to Rio

CGCS Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Ben Wagner discusses the Internet Governance Forum 2013′s relevance in the changing world of Internet Governance.

I’ve recently joined CGCS as a post-doctoral research fellow, and am currently working on a new CGCS project called the Internet Policy Observatory, a research program developed to analyse the dynamic technological and political contexts in which Internet developments and governance decisions take place.  Busy with the preoccupations of relocating across the Atlantic to begin work at Annenberg, I had to miss the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2013 in Bali. As I’ve attended every IGF since 2008, I found myself wondering what I had missed.

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort in the last few years in and around the IGF and from 2009 to 2012, running a ‘Dynamic Coalition,’ something like a working group at the IGF on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media. The dynamic coalition brought together a colourful mix of individuals from civil society, business and government working on issues related to Freedom of Expression. In 2009 and 2010, some of our best years, speakers at our meetings included U.N. Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, the Swedish Foreign Ministry speaking as Chair of the EU delegation and Sami Ben Gharbia of Nawaat.

This year I’ve been stuck to (mostly broken) remote participation, the transcripts on the IGF website and the interesting analysis of various commentators. What is notable at the IGF in 2013 is how little …

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Internet Censorship: A Game of Cat and Mouse

In light of Google Ideas’ uProxy tool announcement, Annenberg-Oxford 2013 alumnus Temitope Lawal reviews governments’ employment of censorship and surveillance online, and the growing efforts by internet users to circumvent these restrictions to fulfill their right to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy.

Recently, Google Ideas announced that it developed a tool called uProxy, a peer-to-peer service that allows people living under controlling regimes to bypass government censorship and surveillance software by establishing internet connections with trusted persons living in open internet states. Currently, more than 25 countries, notably China, Iran and Syria, have institutionalised different types of internet controls to restrict online speech and information access. In Iran, for example, foreign media sites are often blocked, redirected or hijacked.[i] Even with existing circumvention tools, sites such as Voice of America and Kaleme cannot be accessed within the country. China’s highly sophisticated filtering technologies, collectively known as the Great Firewall of China, also enable the practice of blocking foreign websites, blogs and social media platforms. Meanwhile the Turkish government continues to actively monitor and filter content posted on Twitter since anti-government protests in June.

Unlike other circumvention technologies, such as Ultrasurf, Tor and Phiphon, uProxy users selectively share their internet connection with trusted friends. The extension will allow two people who know each other, and are already in touch via chat or email platforms, to share their connection in a way that resembles a virtual private network (VPN). A user in Syria, for example, could…

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