Coordinated by the Nexa Center with the Lund Internet Institute as partner, MorFEO is a research project building on existing knowledge and existing network-measurement tools (e.g., Neubot) to understand the impact of network classification and management practices (e.g., deep packet inspection) on the users' online freedom of expression. The evidence gathered will be released as open data.
ISPs may use a wide range of technologies that allow them not only to violate the network neutrality (i.e., the principle that all Internet packets shall be treated equally) but also to restrict the freedom of expression of Internet users. These techniques allow, e.g., the ISPs to block DNS requests (as well as IP packets), to tear down TCP connections, to tamper with the original content of IP packets. In many cases, such techniques are used to comply with the requests coming either from judges or from other independent authorities (e.g., HADOPI). In other cases, instead, the network neutrality may be violated by an ISP for commercial purposes (e.g., to inject advertisements into a web page).
In general, the topic of network neutrality has been discussed by computer scientists, economists and lawyers. To complement these points of view, network neutrality studies (and especially studies concerning the blocking of content) could greatly benefit from sociological insights that also consider the role of the users, as well as the impact of such network neutrality violations on the users. In particular, it is interesting to empirically investigate the many ways in which users may be prevented from accessing content, the related impact on the user freedom to access information, and the possible countermeasures that users can implement to circumvent the censorship.
Last Update: 2015-03-30
1) Discuss and identify network neutrality measurement parameters able to capture the perspective of users' freedom of expression.
2) Measure such parameters by improving existing tools (e.g., Neubot).
3) Derive empirical inferences about the impact of deviations from network neutrality on the users’ freedom of expression.
Last Update: 2015-03-30
After being positively evaluated inside the EINS Open Call, MorFEO started in March, 2014.
We invited Arturo Filastò (Tor Project) at the 21st Nexa Lunch Seminar to present OONI (the Open Observatory of Network Interference), an open-source project that may be used by the MorFEO project to gather evidence.
The day before and the day after the Lunch Seminar, Simone and Arturo hacked on Neubot and OONI to prepare the ground for collecting data useful for MorFEO.
We have been working on tools designed to collect data relevant for MorFEO. We decided to target mobile platforms and, specifically, Android.
Simone Basso and Arturo Filastò (Tor Project) are developing a prototype C++ library called libight designed to support mobile network measurements of censorship (based on OONI measurements) and performance (based on Neubot measurements).
In turn, libight is to be integrated with Neubot for Android, developed by Simone Basso and Alessandro Quaranta (intern at the Nexa Center). Work on Neubot for Android should resume this fall, when enough libight features will be implemented.
Libight has been under heavy development. We held a hackfest in Rome in the 8-14 December week, in which we implemented the basic features. We have now three prototypal OONI tests (DNS injection, TCP connect and HTTP invalid request line) that produce a YAML file as result.
A detailed description of work done in the context of the MORFEO project in 2015 Q1 is available on Neubot website (basically all libight related work)