Project role: Researcher
Michael is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute.
Shutdowns are a form of digital repression implemented to control the flow of information and curb collective action. One notable example stems from the Arab Spring, during which multiple governments instructed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to disable their services to quell protests, rendering social media platforms inoperable.
This “kill-switch technique” is a rising form of censorship, and an issue occurring on a global scale, with legal, economic and political harms due to the violation of various civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
This project uses predictive modelling to detect trends in technical censorship measures. However, it situates technical analyses of internet shutdowns as part of a broader socio-political trend in the deterioration of civil and political rights. By conducting policy and legal analysis combined with machine learning methods, it seeks to find an answer to a key question for our understanding of internet shutdowns:
Has there been a definable switch from traditional internet censorship to internet shutdowns?