Herdict Launches; Will Help Us Track Global Censorship Efforts

by on February 25, 2009 · 15 comments

Harvard’s Jonathan Zittrain has launched an interesting new project called “HerdictWeb,” which “seeks to gain insight into what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility; or in other words, determine the herdict.”  It’s a useful tool for determining whether governments are blocking certain websites for whatever reason.  Here’s Zittrain’s sock puppet video with all the details!

The website is quite slick and very user-friendly, and they’ve even created a downloadable Firefox button that will automatically check site accessibility while you’re surfing the Net.

The information gathered from this effort will be useful for the OpenNet Initiative that Zittrain and John Palfrey co-created (with others from Univ. of Toronto, Oxford Univ., and Univ. of Cambridge) and wrote about in their excellent book, Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, which was one of my favorite technology policy books of the past year.  The data collected will give them, and us, a fuller picture of just how widespread global filtering and censorship efforts really are.  I encourage you to take a look and spread the word, especially to those in foreign countries who could probably use it more than us. (Of course, their governments will likely block Herdict once the word gets around!)

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