Michael is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute.
Jack O’Callaghan, an undergraduate Economics student at the University of Kent, joined the Global Information and Technology Controls Hub at the Oxford Internet Institute as part of the University of Oxford UNIQ+ internship programme for seven weeks of summer 2023.
UNIQ+ internships are aimed at talented undergraduates from under-represented groups. The internships enable students to experience postgraduate research life at Oxford and include a busy schedule involving training, information and social elements alongside a significant research project.
As well as studying Economics at the University of Kent, Jack is also an Economic Apprentice at the Department of Business and Trade. Whilst at OII this summer he worked with supervisors Dr Joss Wright and DPhil candidate Michael Collyer on the project: “Detecting Anomalies in Censorship Circumvention Data.”
The project examined how people bypass country-wide content restrictions and filters and prevent the possibility of the websites they use being monitored, using software called “Tor”.
Jack explained the concept behind his project: “Using Tor, a person might aim to circumvent content restriction controls to access websites such as Twitter or BBC News in a country where access to these websites is normally filtered or blocked.”
The project aimed to improve an existing anomaly detection system developed at the OII to detect unusual patterns in the numbers of people using Tor. As a result, monitoring of internet censorship or the risk of internet censorship in politically unstable countries can now be achieved more effectively.
Michael Collyer commented on the project: “It’s been fantastic to welcome Jack to the OII this summer. He is a talented student who contributed immensely to this project. The UNIQ+ internships are great opportunities to bring people to Oxford who might not otherwise have the chance and offer a true research experience. We are looking forward to watching Jack’s studies and career progress.”
To find out more, watch Jack discuss the internship and his project.