ONI Releases 2011 Year in Review

The OpenNet Initiative is proud to announce the release of its 2011 Year in Review, a collection of the year's top instances of filtering, surveillance, and information warfare around the globe.

Starting domestically, 2011 saw the beginnings of SOPA and PIPA, bills introduced in the United States House and Senate to fight online copyright violations. Critics of the bills, which included a number of technology companies, claimed the bills would stifle innovation and threaten online freedom. Publishing a collective letter in The New York Times, Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook said, "We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continue track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our nation’s cyber security."

Although Asian and Middle Eastern countries and regimes were often in the ONI spotlight this year, it is European and American companies also came under scrutiny for their role in Internet censorship. Last year saw a great French and British software firms exporting technology to the Middle East that was used in surveillance and monitoring of online and mobile communications. In August, political prisoners sued Cisco for supplying the Chinese government with software to track Chinese Internet users.

Further points of interest this year include:

  • The discovery of surveillance equipment used to spy on Libyan citizens: The transitional government that took over after Qaddafi's ousting discovered in September that the software used by the regime to monitor online activity had been provided by French and South African private companies.
  • Sudan's threat to "crush" Internet dissent: The National Party Congress ruled that "cyber jihadists" would eliminate dissent after citizens organized anti-government campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Russia's massive DDoS attack: During its national elections in December, the country's Internet experienced a large-scale attack on LiveJournal, its online news publications, and election monitoring websites.
  • The UK's attempted crackdown on social media: UK Prime Minister David Cameron proposed tighter restrictions on online social media usage after rioters organized demonstrations and violent lootings over the summer using Facebook.

Last year also saw a number of new ONI publications:

For more information on previous ONI coverage of global censorship, see previous years in review: