The State Department and Net Freedom: A year of great challenges & opportunities


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The State Department and Net Freedom: A year of great challenges & opportunities

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The State Department and Net Freedom: A year of great challenges & opportunities

  1. 1. The State Department and Net Freedom: All Talk and Little Action …?A year of great challenges & opportunities Heritage Foundation Washington, DC January 19, 2011
  2. 2. Net Freedom @ Freedom House– Freedom on the Net (FOTN) • 2009 (15), 2011 (37)– Technology Support • Support, Training, Monitoring, Research– Advocacy / Policy • Internet Governance (IGF) • Freedom of Expression • Engaging NGO Networks– Strategic Partnerships
  3. 3. What is Net Freedom?• What techniques are used to control and censor online content?• What are the main threats to internet and digital media freedom?• What are the positive trends and uses of these technologies?
  4. 4. HOW DO WE MEASURE NET FREEDOM• Obstacles to Access• Limits on Content• Violations of User Rights
  5. 5. WHAT WE FOUND:
  6. 6. GROWING CIVIC ACTIVISMBloggers and other internetusers are using digital mediain creative ways to mobilize:• Facebook activists in Colombia, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia• Use of Twitter for political change in Moldova & Tunisia• Text messages report election violence in Kenya• “Sneakernets” in Cuba
  8. 8. LEGAL REPERCUSSIONS AND VIOLENCE• Legal repercussions: – Use of general media legislation against online activities as well as development of internet- specific legislation• Extra-legal harassment and violence: – Detentions, intimidation, torture – Technical violence: Hacking, DDoS attacks, Cyber espionage• Surveillance and infringements on privacy in a wide range of environments
  9. 9. RESTRICTING ACCESS• Seven of the 15 countries studied had blocked „Web 2.0‟ applications such as: – Facebook – YouTube – Twitter• Iran restricts broadband and Mobile SMS• “Just in Time” blocking (elections, key events)• Flag for removal: Social Media
  10. 10. CENSORSHIP• Some censorship in every country studied, though not always political/social content.• Wide range of techniques for removing content: – Technical filtering – Manual removal because of government directives, judicial orders, intimidation• China‟s apparatus is the most sophisticated, multi-layered, and includes censored SMS.• Significant lack of transparency in censorship procedures, including in some democracies.
  11. 11. GOING THE DISTANCE FOR ACCESSWould you travel over 600 miles just to check your email?Residents in the Xinjiang province of China faced cripplingrestrictions of email, SMS, and the Internet after thegovernment clamped down on civil unrest in the area.Business owners and residents of Xinjiang were forced totravel 24 hours by car and hundreds of miles by train andairplane to reach the nearest internet café.
  12. 12. Censorship : New Threats• Just in Time Blocking – Key website and/or services blocked ahead of significant events (protest, election, strike) • Communications infrastructure turned off (Iran) • Servers seized • Targeted Censorship: Block key sites at critical time. • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack • Flag for removal: – Use “abuse reporting” mechanisms to suspend accounts
  13. 13. Censorship : Just in time blocking
  14. 14. Technology Support• Training – Surveillance (Mobile, Internet, etc..) • Threats & Vulnerabilities are complex • Need to explain in common, simple to understand language – Information Security: • Secure communications, Circumvention tools • Human Factors: – Don‟t underestimate what damage one person can do
  15. 15. Discussion (I)• Understanding the vulnerabilities – Need to explain vulnerabilities, threats and solutions in simple to use language • High Risk Environments / Pervasive Surveillance – Sending messages via insecure networks • Internet • Mobile Networks (location tracking, remote access of phone, etc..)
  16. 16. Discussion (II) – Privacy should be maximized • Don‟t leak key information (credentials: username & passwords) • HTTPS Everywhere – Importance of Persistent HTTPS & minimizing history/logs • Web 2.0 (Facebook, Twitter) – Privacy / Account Security settings – Two-Factor Authentication – Secure Email • Which webmail service is most/least secure • Gmail (Review of Settings - Best Practices) • Hushmail • Vaultletsoft (Install / Account creation / Features / Best Practices)
  17. 17. Discussion (III) – Chat • Skype: Vulnerabilities (What happens if it is blocked or compromised?) • Alternatives : Open Standards Based (Jabber, Guardian Project) – Website Hosting • Not just about servers : Domain name registration, bandwidth, etc • Hosting : Pick a jurisdiction that provides protection (US, Amazon EC2..) – Anti-censorship / Anonymity • Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFT) suite of tools • Psiphon (Proxy), Hotspot Shield (VPN), TOR (Anonymity)
  18. 18. Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports theexpansion of freedom around the world. Freedom House supports democraticchange, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights. For more information contact: Robert Guerra Freedom House Email: Web: Twitter: netfreedom Support the right of every individual to be free.