ICLab was featured among other censorship measurement platforms in a series of stories about Internet shutdowns by IEEE Spectrum
Our ICLab member, Zachary Weinberg, was interviewed by Jeremy Hsu from IEEE Spectrum about Internet shutdowns
…Each of the groups that's currently monitoring Internet censorship uses a different technical approach and can observe different aspects of what's happening,… says Zachary Weinberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and member of the Information Controls Lab (ICLab) project. …We're working with them on combining all of our data sets to get a more complete picture….
ICLab relies heavily on a network of commercial virtual private networks (VPNs) to gain observation points that provide a window into Internet connectivity in each country, along with a handful of human volunteers based around the world. These VPN observation points can do bandwidth-intensive tests and collect lots of data on network traffic without endangering volunteers in certain countries. But one limitation of this approach is that VPN locations in commercial data centers are sometimes not subject to the same Internet censorship affecting residential networks and mobile networks.
If a check turns up possible evidence of a network shutdown, ICLab…s internal monitoring alerts the team. The researchers use manual confirmation checks to make sure it…s a government-ordered shutdown action and not something like a VPN service malfunction. …We have some ad-hoc rules in our code to try to distinguish these possibilities, and plans to dig into the data collected so far and come up with something more principled,… Weinberg says.