Update: Censorwatch is no longer actively maintained, and was removed from the Play Store in August 2021. Results from the contributed measurements are analysed in the paper, CensorWatch: On the Implementation of Online Censorship in India.
What does the app do?
CensorWatch is a research tool to collect empirical evidence about which websites are blocked by Indian internet service providers (ISPs) and using what methods, with the aim of determining if ISPs are complying with net neutrality regulations. To gather this evidence, the app makes network requests to check if the ISP in question is blocking a set of websites. This list of websites has been compiled from publicly-available government and court orders, anecdotal reports from users unable to access particular websites and publications by research organizations. CensorWatch does not access any content from these websites. Learn about the technical details about the methodology on the research page.
How can you help?
Our preliminary research found that all ISPs are not blocking the same websites, and that certain websites are blocked only by a single ISP. Now, we would like to scale up our research, and see if our findings can be confirmed across a wide range of ISPs across the country. By running the app, you will help us determine what websites your ISP is blocking, and contribute towards building empirical evidence for our research. You can download the app (currently available only for Android devices) from the Google Play Store.
You can also help by reporting bugs or vulnerabilities on CensorWatch's Github repository.
We emphasise that CensorWatch does not transmit or access any content from websites potentially blocked in India. However, to your internet service provider, it may seem that you are attempting to connect to such websites. To our knowledge, no one has ever faced consequences for running this kind of network tests. Users run CensorWatch at their own risk, and the Centre for Internet and Society will not be held liable to users and other third parties, for any risks or damages resulting from the use of Censorwatch under any tort, contract, or other causes of action.
What information does the app collect?
Who are we?
This app was developed by the Centre for Internet and Society. The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) is a non-profit organisation that undertakes interdisciplinary research on internet and digital technologies from policy and academic perspectives. Through its diverse initiatives, CIS explores, intervenes in, and advances contemporary discourse and regulatory practices around internet, technology, and society in India, and elsewhere.
We are grateful to the Internet Freedom Foundation for their inputs, to Ipinfo for providing us free access to their service and IP address data. Please also see the work of Open Observatory of Network Interference, which has pioneered measurement of web censorship, which we build on for Censorwatch.