December 2007. The Cambridge Security Programme is operationally closed. This site is maintained as a historical archive. Information on this site is no longer current.
The number of states seeking to control the Internet has risen rapidly in the recent years. Mustering powerful and at times compelling arguments — "securing intellectual property rights," "protecting national security," "preserving cultural norms and religious values," and "shielding children from pornography and exploitation" — extensive filtering and surveillance practices are being proposed and put in place to curb the perceived lawlessness of the medium. Although these practices occur mostly in non-democratic regimes, many democratic countries, led by the US, are also seeking to police the Internet. Some regulation is to be expected as the medium matures. However, filtering and surveillance can seriously erode civil liberties and privacy and stifle global communications.
The OpenNet Initiative is a collaborative partnership between three leading academic institutions: the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and the Advanced Network Research Group at the Cambridge Security Programme at the University of Cambridge.
Our aim is to excavate, expose and analyze filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion. We intend to uncover the potential pitfalls and unintended consequences of these practices, and thus help to inform better public policy and advocacy work in this area. To achieve these aims, the ONI employs a unique multi-disciplinary approach that includes: Advanced Technical Means — using a suite of sophisticated network interrogation tools and metrics; and Local Knowledge Expertise — through a global network of regionally based researchers and experts.