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Monday, May 21, 2007

The Open Net Inititiative and and the Open Inteligence Community

There is a market increased in government attempts to monitor and filter the Internet, for a variety of reasons, according to a recent study by the Open Net Initiative.

They found evidence of interference by:

Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burma/Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.

Some responses by to the study focus on government interference, others focus on which regions are more likely to interfere, and some even the roles of the service providers in Censorship.

It is also important for the Open Source Intelligence Community to track these efforts.

The study sites several ways to influence Internet traffic

First, there is technical blocking
  • Blocking of services like VOip, which reduce government revenue from phone taxes
  • Blocking of general sites which contain politically or religiously offensive material
  • Blocking of keyword and word pattern sites; for example, Morocco filtering any site that discusses the secession and establishment of the Country Western Sarah.
  • Blocking specific urls and IP Addresses.
  • Pressure on Internet Service Providers, such as China put on Google.


  • Intimidation and harassment of bloggers (Egypt, for example)
  • Passing laws targeted at Internet users.
  • Satellite phone prohibition

Second, there is Surveillance

  • Spy ware such as Key stroke logging software
  • Other website History reporting spy ware
  • Server based Spy ware that tracks email

Key questions for the Open Intelligence Community to answer:

  • Who is taking which measures?
  • What level of sophistication exists?
  • What group in the government is taking the political lead, and why?
  • What group is taking the technical lead and why?
  • Do all parts of the government know?
  • If not, why not?

Though it is a common practice for satellite image sites like google earth to blur or alter sensitive sites, knowing which government is trying to filter out these web sites show us which governments have seen satellite pictures they wish were hidden.

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