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Research team investigating Internet censorship with tracking system

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Flickr User Justin Marty
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A group of University of Michigan researchers is investigating Internet censorship. The team created a system called Censored Planet that monitors and reports when access to websites is blocked. The team is seeking to understand which websites governments are blocking and why.

Roya Ensafi is the project leader.

"The measurement is collected in a safe way because collecting measurement data using volunteers is often [an] increased risk," she says.

She says before, volunteers would have to monitor and report censorship, and she says that can be dangerous in many countries. Censored Planet continuously monitors more than 170 countries. Twice a week, the system publishes a snapshot of the data. 

Ensafi says this new way of monitoring will allow researchers to have a baseline for Internet censorship, something previously unavailable. 

She hopes the information can be used by political and social scientists to better understand why countries censor websites. She says the team will investigate whether there is a correlation between political events and Internet censorship.

"Countries with [the] least respect for human rights are often blocking the most content," says Ensafi.

You can learn more and see the team's data on their website

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