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A Brief Overview of Internet Shutdown Resources

An on-off button on a motherboard
An on-off button on a motherboard
Published: 28 November 2022


This blog provides a brief overview of internet shutdown and censorship related resources. We hope this post supports researchers in navigating the community to find valuable tools, datasets, or funding sources. Please note that descriptions may be inaccurate or subject to change. The listings below are not necessarily endorsements.

Data Sources or Organisations

Access Now defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. They lead the #KeepItOn coalition which comprises over 280 organisations. Their Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project (STOP) Data set has data on shutdowns since 2016.

Censored Planet is a censorship measurement platform based at the University of Michigan that collects data using multiple remote measurement techniques in more than 200 countries. Consider exploring their Censored Planet Dashboard.

Cloudflare Radar is a hub that showcases global Internet traffic, attack, and technology trends and insights

Google’s Transparency Reports cover topics such as Traffic and Disruptions to Google or Government Requests to Remove Content.

Internet Outage Detection and Analysis (IODA) is an operational prototype system that monitors the internet, in near-realtime, to identify macroscopic Internet outages affecting the edge of the network, i.e. significantly impacting an AS (Autonomous System) or a large fraction of a country.

Internet Society Pulse curates data from trusted sources to help everyone understand the health, availability and evolution of the global Internet. Consider visiting their Internet Shutdown dashboard.

Kentik’s Network Analysis Center provides an overview of many worldwide network events.

Meta’s Transparency Center covers topics such as Content Restrictions and Internet Disruptions.

M-Lab provides the largest collection of open Internet performance data on the planet. The data collected by M-Lab’s global measurement platform are openly available, and all of the measurement tools hosted by M-Lab are open source.

Mozilla Telemetry Data can be used to detect censorship. Please view “How to detect outages with Mozilla telemetry” with OONI and Mozilla to learn more.

Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) is a global community measuring internet censorship around the world. OONI Explorer is the world’s largest open dataset on internet censorship, consisting of millions of measurements collected from more than 200 countries since 2012.

Psiphon Data Engine provides the Internet freedom community with the opportunity to aggregate and analyze shared network measurements to expand our collective understanding of censorship environments.

RIPE Atlas is a global network of probes that measure Internet connectivity and reachability, providing an unprecedented understanding of the state of the Internet in real time.

Cirumvention Tools

Awala helps circumvent internet blackouts and establishes connectivity in regions where the Internet is unavailable due to natural or human causes.

BearTooth is a device that works with your existing smartphone to communicate when you have no service and works by creating a localized mesh network between users that are within range of one another.

Biton is a peer-to-peer network built on social trust aiming to circumvent information controls and functions over various infrastructures.

Briar provides private messaging, public forums and blogs that are protected against surveillance, filtering and internet blackouts, and other censorship threats.

Bridgefy uses Bluetooth to send messages from your phone to your friends’, over a distance of 100 meters. If you need to text someone that is more than 100 meters, your message hops on other Bridgefy users’ phones until it reaches its destination.

CENO Browser is a web browser for Android which helps users circumvent internet censorship either via proxy connections, or via persistent content from other users which has been cached in the browser’s network.

Commotion is an open-source communication tool that uses wireless devices to create decentralized mesh networks.

Cwtch is a decentralized messaging service based on the Tor network and is focused on metadata-privacy in addition to communications privacy.

dComms enables users to communicate safely when connections are being surveilled, or when the Internet is disconnected.

DeltaChat is a decentralized messaging app that makes use of email server networks to send e2e-encrypted messages and media.

goTenna designs and develops mesh technologies for off-grid and decentralized communications.

Jami is a  communication platform designed to protect user privacy and anonymity. It is end-to-end encrypted, and operates peer-to-peer so it doesn’t require a central server for relaying data between users.

Knapsack’s  satellite file-casting technology delivers digital content to locations otherwise disconnected due to remote geography, Internet shutdowns or high costs.

Meshtastic is an open source, off-grid, decentralized, mesh network built to run on affordable, low-power devices.

NewNode VPN is a decentralized content distribution network (dCDN) that is resistant to a variety of network disruptions.

SMS Without Borders enables users to send emails, tweet and chat on telegram without an active internet connection.

Technitium Mesh is a secure, anonymous, peer-to-peer (p2p), open source instant messenger designed to provide end-to-end encryption.

Tor Browser is an open-source software enabling anonymous communication.

Funding Sources

Access Now provides flexible and grantee-driven funding to grassroots and frontline organizations fighting for human rights in the digital age.

Open Technology Fund supports projects and people that develop open and accessible technologies promoting human rights and open societies, and help advance inclusive and safe access to global communications networks. Their current funds are the Internet Freedom Fund, Rapid Response Fund, Information Controls Fellowship, and Technology at Scale Fund.

Top10VPN runs a Digital Rights Research Grant. Their areas of focus are 1) Invasive Surveillance Tech, 2) Internet Shutdowns & Information Controls, and 3) Algorithmic Discrimination.

Conclusion & Other Guides

This blog intended to provide a brief overview of the internet shutdowns and internet censorship community and is non-exhaustive. We will aim to periodically add to this post as new datasets or tools become available. If you would like to suggest a tool, data source, or organisation be added, please contact the GLITCH Group.

For further reading, consider exploring the Magma Guide. This guide is “the world’s first public framework for network interference research”[1] and provides indepth information about network measurements. Given the Magma Guide’s collaborative format, they welcome community members’ contributions. Alternatively, Internews’ OPTIMA Internet Shutdowns Resource Library has a wealth of resources. These resources are generally split into four main categories, 1) Advocacy, 2) Circumvention, 3) Litigation, and 4) Network Measurement.