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:
- Access Contested: Security, identity, and resistance in Asian cyberspace examines the interplay of national security, social and ethnic identity, and resistance in Asian cyberspace, offering in-depth accounts of the unique national struggles against Internet controls in the region. The authors examine such topics as Internet censorship in Thailand, the Malaysian blogosphere, surveillance and censorship around gender and sexuality in Malaysia, Internet governance in China, corporate social responsibility and freedom of expression in South Korea and India, cyber attacks on independent Burmese media, and distributed-denial-of-service attacks and other digital control measures across Asia. The release of the book was marked by the development of a new, unified Access Website that contains all three ONI books.
- In November, the ONI made its summarized global filtering data available for download. The data provides an overview of the most recent ONI ratings of the breadth and depth of Internet censorship in seventy-four countries across four content categories (political, social, Internet tools and conflict/security), making ONI research more accessible to scholars, journalists, and data mash-up developers.
- In 2011, the ONI also released a number of special reports:
- In the Name of God: Faith Based Internet Censorship in Majority Muslim Countries, August 2011 (PDF)
- Apple MobileMe Brief, July 2011
- Syrian Electronic Army: Disruptive Attacks and Hyped Targets, June 2011
- The Emergence of Open and Organized Pro-Government Cyber Attacks in the Middle East: The Case of the Syrian Electronic Army, May 2011
- West Censoring East: The Use of Western Technologies by Middle East Censors, 2010-2011, March 2011
For more information on previous ONI coverage of global censorship, see previous years in review: