Measurements and Advertising under Internet Censorship

Speaker: Ihsan Ayyub Qazi , LUMS

Date: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Time: 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Note: all times are in the Eastern Time Zone

Public: Yes

Location: Hewlet Room (32-G882)

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Host: Mohammad Alizadeh

Contact: Sheila M. Marian, 617-253-1996,

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Reminder Subject: TALK: Measurements and Advertising under Internet Censorship

Internet censorship is prevalent, with as many as 70 countries restricting Internet access to their citizens. Internet censorship has a marked impact on various stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem (e.g., users, content providers, and advertisers). In this talk, I will discuss two projects that my research group has recently pursued.

In the first half of my talk, I will describe C-Saw, a platform for measuring Internet censorship at scale. Collecting continuous and reliable censorship measurements requires diverse and globally distributed monitors. Measurement systems that rely on volunteers to act as probe points have seen limited deployment as users often have little incentive to help gather continuous measurements. C-Saw addresses this challenge by offering data-driven circumvention to users and thus incentivizing them to opt-in. As more and more users crowd-source, the censorship data gets richer. This helps in adapting the circumvention approach based on the deployed censorship mechanism for improved page load times. (A preliminary version of this work appeared in ACM HotNets 2015)
In the second half of my talk, I will describe C-Adverts, a system for serving relevant ads, while allowing users to receive the benefits of circumvention/anonymity tools (e.g., Tor and Lantern). Advertising systems play a key role in online digital marketing by channelizing relevant ads from advertisers to users, via the publishers. When users in a censorship regime attempt to access blocked content through a proxy relay, they often observe a decrease in the relevance of ads. This not only frustrates users but also adversely impacts the advertising campaign. C-Adverts addresses this challenge by leveraging the insight that the ads served by advertising systems are usually hosted on domains that are different from the publisher domains and are almost always uncensored.

Ihsan Ayyub Qazi is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the SBA School of Science and Engineering at LUMS, Lahore, Pakistan. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh, PA USA in 2010 and his BSc. (Hons) degree from LUMS with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics in 2005. Previously, he has held positions at BBN Technologies and the Centre for Advanced Internet Architectures. His research interests are in computer networks and distributed systems and span cloud computing and datacenters, Internet censorship, and wireless networks. His research has appeared in venues such as ACM SIGCOMM and IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking.

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Created by Sheila M. Marian Email at Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 11:12 AM.