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.

FOCI 2024 Program

Explore our FOCI'24 program colocated with PETS. Registration is through the PETS conference. Livestreaming will be available for free.

Papers for the FOCI'23 online event are hosted by the Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies

FOCI 2023

July 10th, Lausanne - Switzerland

From 08:00 am till 05:30 pm CET


08:00 - 09:00

09:00 - 09:15

09:15 - 10:15
FOCI paper session: Censorship Analysis

    A Worldwide View of Nation-state Internet Censorship [PDF]

    This work presents a comprehensive study on worldwide nation-state Internet censorship, offering insights into current and emerging censorship methods, changes in censorship trends over the past two decades, and a research framework for continual analysis.

    Detecting Network Interference Without Endpoint Participation [PDF]

    This work presents a system that detects Internet censorship in authoritarian regimes without local endpoints or volunteers. By leveraging non-TCP compliant middleboxes, the system automates the discovery of censorship-triggering packet sequences using Geneva.

    Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Russian Transit Censorship [PDF]

    This work investigates Russian censorship's collateral damage on transit traffic. Scanning 18 neighboring countries' IP address spaces, the study identifies at least 9 affected countries and 7 responsible autonomous systems, emphasizing the need for global examination of collateral damage.

10:15 - 10:45
Break with snacks

10:45 - 11:45
FOCI Keynote

Motivation and Challenges for Censorship Research (the Indian perspective)
Piyush Kumar, Post Doctoral Researcher at COSIC, KU Leuven.

11:45 - 01:30

01:30 - 02:30
FOCI paper session: New strategies for evasion

    The Use of Push Notification in Censorship Circumvention [PDF]

    This work explores the potential of using push notification services for censorship circumvention, presenting two systems, PushRSS and PushProxy, that leverage push notifications as a transport.

    Proteus: Programmable Protocols for Censorship Circumvention [PDF]

    Proteus is a censorship circumvention system that enables the expression of new communication protocols through concise specification files. It improves on previous designs by enhancing host safety, supporting multiple protocols, and providing a non-specialist-friendly specification language.

    Voiceover: Censorship-Circumventing Protocol Tunnels with Generative Modeling [PDF]

    To counter content mismatch attacks by censorship regimes, this work proposes a novel traffic-shaping technique. By modeling normal media content and aligning timing properties, this work approach mitigates distinguishing features in encrypted network traffic, enhancing resistance against such attacks.

02:30 - 03:00

03:00 - 04:00
FOCI Keynote

04:00 - 04:15
Break with snacks

04:15 - 05:15
FOCI paper session: Real-world considerations

    Rethinking Realistic Adversaries for Anonymous Communication Systems [PDF]

    This work highlights the limited scope of adversaries considered in traditional anonymity systems and emphasizes the need for new adversaries that reflect real-world conditions.

    Running a high-performance pluggable transports Tor bridge [PDF]

    This paper discusses scalability challenges in the pluggable transports model of Tor and proposes a solution based on running multiple synchronized Tor processes on the bridge host.

    Crowdsourcing the Discovery of Server-side Censorship Evasion Strategies [PDF]

    This paper introduces server-side censorship evasion, which manipulates packets during a TCP handshake to bypass client-side censorship. It proposes a distributed training model that allows users to contribute to discovering censorship evasion strategies by visiting a website with an unmodified web browser.

05:15 - 05:30

Call For Papers

The goal of FOCI is to bring together researchers, implementers, and activists working in the area of internet freedom. We recognize that control over online speech has become inherently interdisciplinary, so that studying these problems often involves adopting a holistic, interdisciplinary perspective. We aim to catalyze new research directions and in-depth discussions concerning free and open communications on the internet by providing a space for work that might not fit at conventional computer science measurement and security conferences. We particularly encourage early-stage research or extensions on previously published research.
FOCI will not publish the accepted papers as part of a proceedings, therefore, the authors may submit the work they present at FOCI to other venues. The accepted works at FOCI (e.g., extended abstracts, papers) will be made available online with open access.
There will be two FOCI events this year: an online-only event and an in-person event. Dates and deadlines for both rounds are as follows:

    In-person event

  • Submission: Mar 15 2023
  • Notification: May 15 2023
  • In person FOCI: July 10 2023, colocated with PETS 2023 in Lausanne, Switzerland


We welcome studies on all aspects of digital speech control. Below are some examples of topics that we consider definitely relevant to FOCI, however we encourage community members to interpret this list broadly and feel free to submit works not specifically listed here.

  • Surveillance: e.g., analyses of corporate or government surveillance; anonymity systems that aim to protect users from surveillance; societal impacts of surveillance
  • Censorship: e.g., the measurement or evaluation of Internet censorship; tools or systems that circumvent censorship; ethics or risks towards users in the research of censorship measurement or circumvention
  • Content moderation systems: e.g., analyses of tools employed by social media
  • Disinformation and misinformation online: e.g., analyses of digital propaganda; social media trends
  • Press freedom: e.g., deployment of tools to protect whistleblowers; analysis of government or corporate repression of the press
  • Intellectual Property: e.g., right to repair; analyses of copyright/patent law

What to Submit

We welcome the submission of papers containing the following type of content:

  • Research papers: Research papers should have a clearly stated methodology including a hypothesis and experiments designed to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
  • Position papers: Position papers, particularly those that critique past work, should present detailed solutions, either proposed or implemented.
  • Experience papers: Experience papers should recount experiences (e.g., from experiments or deployments) and should highlight takeaways and lessons learned that might help researchers, implementors, or deployers of internet freedom tools in the future.
  • Preliminary Work Papers: Preliminary work papers should describe interesting and new ideas and early results, and we expect that such works-in-progress papers may eventually be extended as full papers for publication at a conference.
  • Extended Work Papers: Extended work papers should expand upon a component of previously published work (e.g., an extended set of experimental results or measurements that did not make it into a previous paper, or an evaluation of a tool, system, or deployment used in the published work) and should carefully explain the novel contribution compared to the original work.

For all submissions, the program committee will give greater weight to papers that lend themselves to interactive discussion among workshop attendees.

Submission Instructions

We offer a variety of paper length options. Submitters may chose the option that best fits their submission:

  • Extended Abstract: Submissions must be no longer than two pages. Extended abstracts should convince the reader that the author would give an exciting presentation at the workshop. We envision that extended abstracts will be position or experience papers, but this is not a hard requirement.
  • Short Paper: Submissions must be no longer than four pages. Short papers should provide enough context and background for the reader to understand the contribution. We envision that short papers will be preliminary work or extended work papers, but this is not a hard requirement.
  • Long Paper: Submissions must be no longer than eight pages. We envision that long papers will be the more traditional research paper, but this is not a hard requirement.

The page length limits for all submissions do not include references and appendices. Text should be formatted in two columns on 8.5"x11" paper using 10-point type on 12-point leading ("single-spaced"), with the text block being no more than 7" x 9". Text outside the 7" x 9" block will be ignored. Authors are encouraged to use the LaTeX and Word guides from the USENIX paper templates page.

The review process will be double-blind; all submissions should be anonymized so as not to reveal the authors names or affiliations during the review process. All anonymized papers must be submitted in PDF format via the submission form. Please do not email submissions.

We will update this page with a submission link shortly.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

Code of Conduct

The Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI) community strives to foster a space for rigorous, challenging intellectual exploration that is at the same time open, inclusive and diverse. We urge FOCI participants to engage with one another encouragingly and constructively, and especially encourage participants to interact with those whose viewpoints, research interests, cultural backgrounds, or experiences may be unfamiliar to them or outside their comfort zone.
The organizers expect that anyone participating in FOCI will—at minimum—treat others with respect for their dignity and autonomy. Correspondingly, behavior that violates these principles will not be tolerated, and may include consequences up to and including expulsion from FOCI. Anyone who feels threatened or harassed while participating in FOCI should not hesitate to reach out to the FOCI chairs and can expect that any concerns shared will be taken seriously and handled with both discretion and dispatch. The current FOCI chairs are Roya Ensafi and Cecylia Bocovich.

FOCI’23 Chairs

Advisory Board

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

Program Committee

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

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