May 14 2020 GM

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Community Updates

Topic: Magma Lavafeld reports with Vasilis

You can find Vasilis and Samba on Mattermost by @anadahz and @samba. They are working on uncensoring the internet with Magma. Right now, they are working on the Women on Web website block in Spain. WomenOnWeb is a site dedicated to educate on abortion, and a similar web that isn’t blocked in Spain is WomenOnWaves

  • The current research started some time ago, when Vasilis was analyzing OONI data from Spain in a research article he was working on. He realized that the websites of WomenOnWeb seem to be blocked in pretty much all major ISPs in Spain.
  • Vasilis contacted some people to help him find out with more network measurements and also verify that this is the case. Which sadly is the case; the blocking of WomenOnWeb in Spain. Together with many people and support for even more people, they managed to find out all the technical details of the blocking here.
  • When talking about censorship stereotypes, people always assume that website blocking only happens in place with authoritarian rule, and not in places like western European countries. Magma hasn’t concluded yet why the website is being blocked in Spain, they are in contact with some lawyers but things are not moving so fast.
  • When we talk about the process of the research, first Magma looks at historical data (if it is available) and they try to find out when the blocking has started. Usually in cases that are a consistent case blocking like the website of WomenOnWeb, you can clearly see it. Like in the graph, everything that is not grey colored means that on that day on the specific network has been blocked.

Magma-1-small.png

  • When talking about how comprehensive is the OONI test list coverage for abortion websites, the websites of Women On Web and Women On Waves are included in the test lists since many years ago. That's why Magma has such a good coverage of network measurements.
  • Regarding the ISPs, and how researchers behave with them, there have been some unofficial requests to ISPs about the blocking. The ISPs mentioned that it may be due to a web browser misconfiguration which actually doesn't make sense.
  • Magma is currently stacked with the legal part, they are in close communication with Women On Web. They have also started working on a not so technical report so that people can better understand the issue.
  • It seems like a ISP in Spain got a request to block this website for an unknown reason and Magma wants to know this, get legal and advocacy support and make this public and fight this censorship because they think that it's illegal and community need to know this.
  • Also it's important to mention that Women On Web websites is helping a lot of women and pregnant people with information to abortion. In countries with curfews and lockdowns such as in Spain women cannot just visit their doctor for such matters anymore.

How to support Magma and this research:

  • They are now preparing a non-technical report and they are getting in touch with community movements (in Spain and all EU) who understand what Spain is doing with ISP and websites. This block is an important flag. So they want to share this infos and create a community who will ask for clarity to the ISP and government in Spain. This is a feminist fight but is also a Freedom of Expression fight.
  1. Circulate this information in your network: one easy way to help is staying tuned and share the next non-tech report that they are preparing
  2. Help with legal advice
  3. Collaborate with them to unblock the website
  4. Collaborate with them to the non technical report

If you want to help them, send an email to nobloc@3msg.es. They will be really happy to talk to you!

  • Needless to say, doing a data analysis on Internet Censorship is quite often a cumbersome work, and this historical data analysis was only possible due to the volunteers that provide OONI.
  • Vasilis is planning on creating a step-by-step guide on how they did this research. With measurements and graphics.
  • A Spanish translation is on the way and Magma is looking for further explanation of why WomenOnWeb websites are being blocked in Spain.