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[liberationtech] Dimming the Internet: Detecting Throttling as a Mechanism of Censorship in Iran

Collin Anderson collin at
Thu Jun 20 09:35:07 PDT 2013


Today, my latest paper “Dimming the Internet: Detecting Throttling as a
Mechanism of Censorship in Iran,” a documentation on three years of the use
of bandwidth throttling as a means of political censorship in Iran, was
posted on the publishing site arXiv.

Paper (arXiv):

“Dimming the Internet" uses a three-year dataset of network measurements as
a monitoring service for political throttling, then applies the methodology
to shed light on the recent history of censorship in Iran, and finds that
Iran’s Internet has experienced prolonged and significant disruptions timed
annually near the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and 25 Bahman, the
first anniversary of the contested elections, and protests over the
depreciation of the value of the Iranian Rial. Through the Measurement Lab
(M-Lab) platform, anti-censorship researchers gain a diverse and
non-partisan perspective on a network that is often opaque and difficult to
access from outside. The results described not only shed light on instances
of censorship, but also the manner in which public networks are subjected
to a greater degree of disruption than those of business, universities and

Iran is not alone in this behavior, with Syria, Bahrain, Myanmar and
Vietnam reportedly utilizing similar tactics. As stories of connection
throttling timed with political instability grow and access to
international communications platforms remains a necessary means for
expression otherwise denied, “Dimming the Internet” provides a framework
for accountability on a trend that thus far has been opaque. In the coming
months, the Center for Global Communication Research at the Annenberg
School for Communication will expand on this methodology as a means to
account for historical cases and monitor this phenomenon on an ongoing
basis globally.

*Collin David Anderson* | @cda | Washington, D.C.
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