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.

FOCI 2024 Summer Program

July 15th from 9:00 am till 05:30 pm BST (8:00 - 16:30 UTC)

9:00 - 9:15 Welcome

9:15 - 10:05 Session I: Censorship and Machine Learning

Session chair: Ryan Wails

Extended Abstract: The Impacts of Online Censorship on LLMs
Mohamed Ahmed, Jeffrey Knockel

Extended Abstract: Leveraging Large Language Models to Identify Internet Censorship through Network Data
Tianyu Gao, Ping Ji

Toward Automated DNS Tampering Detection Using Machine Learning
Paola Calle, Larissa Savitsky, Arjun Nitin Bhagoji, Nguyen Phong Hoang, Shinyoung Cho

10:05 - 10:30 Break

10:30 - 11:50 Session II: Censorship Circumvention Strategies

Session chair: Arturo Filastò

Exploring Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) for Censorship Circumvention
Michael Pu, Andrew Wang, Anthony Chang, Kieran Quan, Yi Wei Zhou

Looking at the Clouds: Leveraging Pub/Sub Cloud Services for Censorship-Resistant Rendezvous Channels
Afonso Vilalonga, João S. Resende, Henrique Domingos

Ten Years Gone: Revisiting Cloud Storage Transports to Reduce Censored User Burdens
Paul Vines

Turning Attacks into Advantages: Evading HTTP Censorship with HTTP Request Smuggling
Philipp Müller, Niklas Niere, Felix Lange, Juraj Somorovsky

12:00 - 2:00 Lunch

2:00 - 3:00 Session III: Privacy Enhancing Technologies

Session chair: Piyush Kumar

RecoCoDe: Recover From Data Corruption in Deniable Storage
Vero Estrada-Galiñanes, Andrej Milicevic

A case study on DDoS attacks against Tor relays
Tobias Höller, René Mairhofer

(P)KT-IEE: Secure Key Transparency Protocols for Interoperable End-to-End Encrypted Message Systems
Neenu Garg, Tariq Elahi

3:00 - 3:30 Break

3:30 - 4:30 Session IV Analyzing censorship + circumvention techniques

Session chair: Diwen Xue

Detecting VPN Traffic through Encapsulated TCP Behavior
Michelina Hanlon, Gerry Wan, Anna Ascheman, Zakir Durumeric

Analyzing Prominent Mobile Apps in Latin America
Beau Kujath, Jeffrey Knockel, Paul Aguilar, Diego Morabito, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Jedidiah R. Crandall

Lost in Translation: Characterizing Automated Censorship in Online Translation Services
Samuel Ruo, Jeffrey Knockel, Zoë Reichert

4:30 - 5:30 Awards + Rump session

FOCI 2024 Winter Program

February 19th from 11:00 am till 05:00 pm EST (16:00 - 22:00 UTC)


11:15 - 12:15

Against the "arms race"
David Fifield
[video] [slides]

12:30 - 1:30
Session 1: Exposing Censorship

Internet Sanctions on Russian Media: Implementation and Effects
John Kristoff, Max Resing, Moritz Müller, Arturo Filastò, Chris Kanich, Niels ten Oever
[video] [paper]

Bleeding Wall: A Hematologic Examination on the Great Firewall
Sakamoto, Elson Wedwards
[video] [paper]

1:30 - 2:30

2:30 - 4:00
Session 2: Censorship Circumvention Tools

Just add WATER: WebAssembly-based Circumvention Transports
Erik Chi, Gaukas Wang, J. Alex Halderman, Eric Wustrow, Jack Wampler
[video] [paper]

Extended Abstract: Traffic Splitting for Pluggable Transports
Anna Harbluk Lorimer, Rob Jansen, Nick Feamster
[video] [paper]

Extended Abstract: Oscur0: One-shot Circumvention without registration
Mingye Chen, Jack Wampler, Abdulrahman Alaraj, Gaukas Wang, Eric Wustrow
[video] [paper]

4:00 - 5:00
Wrap Up and Town Hall

FOCI 2024 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 to previously published research.

FOCI papers will be available online at All works are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY 4.0). Authors retain the copyright of their work and may distribute and reuse the contents as they wish.

There will be two FOCI issues this year:

Issue 1: Accepted papers and talks will be presented at an online-only event

Issue 2: Accepted papers and talks will be presented at an in-person event

Dates and deadlines for both issues/events are as follows:

    Online event

  • Submission: November 17, 2023
  • Notification: January 19, 2024
  • Online FOCI: February 19, 2024

    In-person event

  • Submission: April 15, 2024 extended to April 19, 2024
  • Notification: May 30, 2024 delayed to June 7, 2024
  • Hybrid FOCI: July 15, 2024 co-located with PETS in Bristol, UK

We are currently accepting submissions for Issue 2 (in-person event), due April 19th, 2024.


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.

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. Submitted abstracts must be prefaced with “Extended Abstract: ” in the title.
  • 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. Authors should use the PoPETs template. There is no need to fill in the values in the Copyright and Issue info sections of the .tex file for submission.

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.

To submit, please visit
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 Tariq Elahi and Cecylia Bocovich.

FOCI’24 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
  • Tariq Elahi, University of Edinburgh

Program Committee

  • Amir Houmansadr, UMass Amherst
  • Anonymous, GFW Report
  • Arturo Filastò, Open Observatory of Network Interference
  • David Fifield
  • Diogo Barradas, University of Waterloo
  • Diwen Xue, University of Michigan
  • Eric Wustrow, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Jeffrey Knockel, Citizen Lab
  • Kevin Bock, University of Maryland
  • Micah Sherr, Georgetown University
  • Mona Wang, Princeton University
  • Nguyen Phong Hoang, University of Chicago
  • Paul Syverson, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
  • Philipp Winter
  • Piyush Kumar, University of Michigan
  • Ram Sundara Raman, University of Michigan
  • Rishab Nithyanand, University of Iowa
  • Sambuddho, IIIT-Delhi
  • Steven Murdoch, University College London
  • Valentin Weber, German Council on Foreign Relations

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