October 29 2020, MENA Meetup

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MENA Meetups

Icarus Project: Testing and Analyzing Internet Censorship Circumvention Solutions

  • Who: Mohamed Tita, Icarus Project
  • Date: Thursday, October 29th
  • Time: 5pm UTC+1 (Berlin) / 6pm UTC+2 (El Cairo)* Note: Daylight savings ends for Europe/UK. Please check the times below to make sure you have the correct time for your region.
  • Language: English & Arabic

In the last few years the MENA region has witnessed unprecedented rise of internet censorship. Countries like Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudia Arabia have been blocking and restricting access to websites of their adversaries and also independent media outlets and human rights organizations. In this context of rising control and restriction of online freedom, new Internet freedom tools and projects have been developed by technologists and human rights activists. In our second MENA Community Knowledge Session (CKS), we are thrilled to host Mohamed Tita who will present Icarus Project, an online repository for documented Internet censorship circumvention techniques and methods.

Mohamed Tita is a 2019 Open Technology Fund Information Controls Fellow. He worked with the Stratosphere Research Laboratory at the Czech Technical University in Prague (CVUT) on testing and documenting Internet censorship circumvention solutions and methods, the result being the Icarus Project.

The MENA Konwledge Sharing Sessions are brought to you with love and care by Rima & Wafaa.


Q&A

We witnessed that authorities block the mirrors, how long creating a new mirror takes? who creates it? can journalists be trained to do so? how long will it take the cat to catch the new mirror?

  • The main advantage of using this method was to access the app and proxy the independent media website, sometimes they were blocking the sub domain without blocked the google appspot itself, it takes 2 min to create a new mirroe, we use decoy, create a new project and voila. blocking websites really depending on egyptian beaurcracy sometimes couple of days and sometimes maybe hours or weeks.

I wonder if you recorded cases of censorship on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms in Egypt. If yes: why? How was it justified?

Why the name Icarus project?

  • It reasonates with what we are building and i like the story itself.

What are the resources and tools you recommend to work around internet cencorship in conflict areas?

  • Contact Protonemail they start a community and they support the public, most orgs who work in the field have good documentation. Bitfrost, Qurium

Are there easy-to-use tools for journalists to circumvent censorship?

  • Outline VPN by Jigsaw is a very automated and i hope Icarus can use something that easy to implement.

What's the approach of Icarus project toward do no harm policy? how do we make sure that these efforts are used for the good cause?

  • Some solutions depends on services like Amazon AWS or Google cloud and these platforms already have clear policies to prevent abuse, having policies and valid reporting process are fundamental for this. 

How can we as a community contribute and help Icarus Project?

  • The whole idea is to initiate the platforms and calling the people to contribute, localize, add different methods, and even reporting. all contributions are welcome, just go to github and suggest changes

Is there like a piece of tech still missing in the internet censorship game? or should we focuse on enhancing the current solutions.

  • Open source mobile application to aggregate blocked news, customizable solutions.
  • Most of the efforts of enhancing already existing solutions go mostly to automation. what we need is having support for communities to talk more about solutions for internet censorship. There is this app I tried and it didn't work but I think it's really interesting: https://github.com/PushOCCRP/Push-Documentation/blob/master/index.md

Resources shared in this session