The Internet as part of the critical infrastructure affects many aspects of our society significantly, although it impacts different parts of society differently. The Internet is an important tool to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and to globally support human rights. Consequently, the lack of meaningful access to digital infrastructure and services is also a form of disenfranchisement.
Solely having Internet access is not enough. At the same time as we work to connect the next billion people and reduce the digital divide, it is also important to understand persistent and novel inequalities in the digital age when accessing content and services. There are more and more barriers to meaningful access to the services and applications that run on the Internet. Even if Internet connectivity is available, information and services access may remain challenged and unequal.
This workshop aims to collect reports about barriers to access content and services on the Internet, e.g based on filtering, blocking as well as due to general inequality of technological capabilities, like device or protocol limitations. The workshop aims to help the Internet community get a better understanding of how the Internet functions in different parts of the world and which technology or techniques need to be used to gain access to content. Further this workshop aims to build an understanding of what “being connected” to the Internet means: What is the Internet to users? What is needed to be meaningfully connected? What are the minimum requirements in order to be able to access certain parts of the content and services provided over the Internet?
The IAB is looking for short position papers on the following topics; however, this list is non-exhaustive and should be interpreted broadly:
- Discussion of minimal requirements for meaningful Internet access that enable use of content and services provided over the Internet
- Discussion of current inequalities in Internet access in various parts of the world
- Measurements of content blocking, Internet shutdowns, or other events that impact Internet access
- Detailed analysis of filtering and blocking techniques
- Description and evaluation of circumvention techniques, including VPNs and application-level traffic diversion
- Discussion and measurements of technologies that exacerbate the digital divide beyond connectivity
- Threat modeling for when connectivity and circumvention are misaligned with jurisdictions and authorities
Interested participants are invited to submit position papers on the workshop topics. There are no restrictions on the format. Participants can choose their preferred format, including Internet-Drafts, text- or word-based documents, or papers formatted similar as used by academic publication venues. Submission as PDF is preferred. Paper size is not limited, but brevity is encouraged. Interested participants who have published relevant academic papers may submit these as a position paper, optionally with a short abstract explaining their interest and the paper’s relevance to the workshop. The workshop itself will be focused on discussions based on the position paper topics received.
All inputs submitted and considered relevant will be published on the workshop website. The organizers will issue invitations based on the submissions received. Sessions will be organized according to content, and not every accepted submission or invited attendee will have an opportunity to present; the intent is to foster an active discussion and not simply to have a sequence of presentations. A workshop report covering all submissions and the workshop discussion will be published afterwards.
The workshop will be by invitation only. Those wishing to attend should submit a position paper to address the above topics and questions. Position papers from those not planning to attend the workshop themselves are also encouraged.
Please indicate your interest by submitting a research proposal by November 24, 2023 to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Program Committee members are Mallory Knodel (IAB, Center for Democracy and Technology), Mirja Kühlewind (IAB, Ericsson), Tommy Pauly (IAB, Apple), Chris Wood (IAB, Cloudflare), and Dhruv Dhody (IAB, Huawei).
Feel free to contact the program committee with any further questions: email@example.com.
This workshop will be held online during the week of January 15, 2024, likely supporting three 2-3h sessions spread over the week based on submissions and the availability of the invited participants.