Internet censorship is often described as a “cat and mouse” game where “cats” (states) constantly invent methods and technologies to block access to online content, whereas “mice” (Internet freedom actors) try to counteract their efforts with innovative technologies.

In such dynamically changing Internet environment, researchers rely more often now on custom test lists that are tailored to answer specific research questions, rather than using the standard country lists.

Here, you will find curated test lists and methodologies developed by researchers to examine specific features of Internet censorship regimes in various parts of the world.

Project: Internet blocking during 2018 Russian presidential elections

AuthorsIgor Valentovitch and Ksenia Ermoshina

Resume: In their paper, Igor and Ksenia investigate if 2018 Russian presidential elections affected Internet freedom in Russia and Crimea, and if Internet censorship was experienced in the same way in both territories.

They found no empirical evidence suggesting that the elections caused filtering of critical or liberal resources in both territories. Platforms that were blocked before the elections, remained inaccessible during and after them.

However, Igor and Ksenia discovered that blocking of critical content was not carried out uniformly in mainland Russia and Crimea. Instead, they documented cases of under-blocking and over-blocking of websites to occur on the networks of various ISPs, which made them conclude that Internet filtering in Russia is not uniform across the board.

Methodology: The researchers conducted daily network measurements for four months – before, during and after the elections. They set up a custom test list of critical websites that were either blocked by the Russian telecommunications authority or had a high probability of being blocked during the elections. The network measurements were conducted with OONI Probes on the networks of 70+ ISPs