Free and Open Communications on the Internet

FOCI gathers researchers and practitioners from technology, law, and policy who are working on means to study, detect, or circumvent practices that inhibit free and open communications on the Internet.


Our FOCI 2024 Call for Papers is up! Consider submitting your work for the hybrid event in July.

The Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI '22) will bring together researchers and practitioners who study and develop technologies that directly affect digital speech online including censorship, surveillance, and disinformation/strategic communication. We solicit contributions from the fields of computer science, the social sciences, and law, and we welcome interdisciplinary submissions. This year, our key goal is to establish a sustainable foundation for FOCI by engaging our community. On August 9th, we’ll kick off our first FOCI town hall around the usual time FOCI, followed by a series of interesting talks on hot topics of this year (HotFOCI). Finally we will have our actual FOCI venue to be held later in the year (or early 2023) perhaps depending on the outcome of discussions during the town hall.

FOCI’22 Chairs

About our townhall - August 9th

From 6:00 pm till 7:00 pm ET

The town hall agenda will include discussion on a few aspects of FOCI that aren't ideal, such as deadlines that coincide with IMC for the measurement community. Our townhall will be followed by HotFOCI, a series of talks by our community members around their work in progress projects. To have a productive event we are seeking feedback from you. Please fill out the form on what topics we should discuss in our first town hall.

Submit Feedback

About HotFOCI - August 15th

From 12:00 pm till 1:45 pm ET

This year we are holding a virtual gathering on Hot Topics in Free and Open Communications on the Internet (HotFOCI) after our townhall. HotFOCI is modeled after HotPETs and will provide a venue for participants to lead discussions on new, in-progress, or unusual topics related to internet freedom. To emphasize discussion and audience participation, each talk should be kept to at most 10 minutes long and will be followed by a generous discussion period. We invite submissions on anything the FOCI community would find interesting, including but not limited to: works in progress, demos, future research directions, and untested ideas.


Censorship Resistant Onion Association using Sauteed Onions
Rasmus Dahlberg, Paul Syverson, Linus Nordberg, and Matthew Finkel

Applying machine learning to PRC patent filing to surface emerging human rights impacts of smart city technologies
Joss Wright, Valentin Weber, and Greg Walton

Leak distribution analysis
Benjamin De Kosnik

Analyzing censorship in Chinese search engines
Ken Kato and Jeffrey Knockel

How to ethically look at user payload
Ben Mixon-Baca, Diwen Xue, Michalis Kallitsis, Roya Ensafi, Jed Crandall

About FOCI - date TBD

The goal of FOCI is to catalyze new research directions and discussions that might not be mature or established enough to appear at conventional computer science measurement and security conferences. We aim to foster the development of early-stage work across disciplines. We recognize that control over online speech has become inherently interdisciplinary, so that studying these problems often involves adopting a holistic, interdisciplinary perspective.

All papers accepted to FOCI'22 will be published as open access.

Topics of Interest

We welcome studies on all aspects of digital speech control. This includes (but is not limited to) the measuring, building, and deploying of:

  • Anonymity systems
  • Censorship systems
  • Circumvention systems
  • Content moderation systems (e.g., social media)
  • Corporate or government surveillance
  • Digital propaganda
  • Disinformation and misinformation online
  • Laws and policies governing communication and surveillance
  • Press freedom
  • Societal and behavioral impacts of censorship and surveillance

Submission Instructions

(subject to change with the outcomes of the townhall)

Submitted papers must be no longer than six pages (excluding references and appendices), based on the standard USENIX format. Please note, however, that reviewers are not required to read appendices, and papers should be able to stand on their own without them. More specifically:

  • Papers must be formatted for printing on Letter-sized (8.5" by 11") paper. Paper text blocks must follow ACM guidelines: double-column, with each column 9.25" by 3.33", 0.33" space between columns. Each column must use 10-point font or larger, and contain no more than 55 lines of text.
  • Advisory Board

    • Nick Feamster, University of Chicago
    • Roger Dingledine, The Tor Project
    • Phillipa Gill, Google
    • Jon Penney, The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto/Dalhousie
    • Joss Wright, University of Oxford
    • Roya Ensafi, University of Michigan
    • Jed Crandall, Arizona State University
    • Rob Jansen, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
    • Cecylia Bocovich
    • Amir Houmansadr, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    • Prateek Mittal, Princeton University
    • Dave Levin, University of Maryland
    • Eric Wustrow, University of Colorado Boulder

    Program Committee

    • David Fifield
    • Amir Houmansadr, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    • Dave Levin, University of Maryland
    • Rishab Nithyanand, University of Iowa
    • Masashi Nishihata, Citizen Lab
    • Drew Springall, Auburn University
    • Michael Carl Tschantz, ICSI Berkeley
    • Eric Wustrow, University of Colorado Boulder
    • Tariq Elahi, University of Edinburgh
    • Arturo Filasto, OONI
    • Bill Marczak, Citizen Lab
    • Jeff Knockel, Citizen Lab
    • Micah Sherr, Georgetown University
    • Jennifer Rexford, Princeton University
    • Kevin Bock, University of Maryland
    • Nguyen Phong Hoang, University of Chicago
    • Valentin Weber, German Council on Foreign Relations
    • Molly Roberts, University of California San Diego
    • Diogo Barradas, University of Waterloo
    • Paul Syverson, Naval Research Laboratory
    • Simone Basso, OONI
    • Lex Gill, McGill University
    • Sambuddho Chakravarty, IIIT Delhi
    • Paul Pearce, Georgia Tech
    Submissions coming soon!

    Feedback form for FOCI'22

    Let us know what you'd like at FOCI.

    Submit feedback

    Apply to give a HotFOCI talk

    10 minute talks about the Hot Topics in FOCI

    Apply for HotFOCI

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