The OpenNet Initiative: A Collaborative Partnership


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The OpenNet Initiative was a collaborative partnership among three leading academic institutions: the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto,  Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and the Advanced Network Research Group at the  Cambridge Security Programme, University of Cambridge.

Their aim was to excavate, expose and analyze filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion. They intended to uncover the potential pitfalls and unintended consequences of these practices, and thus help to inform better public policy and advocacy work in this area. To achieve these aims, the ONI employed a unique multi-disciplinary approach that included: Advanced Technical Means—using a suite of sophisticated network interrogation tools and metrics; and Local Knowledge Expertise—through a global network of regionally based researchers and experts.

OpenNet Initiative research was published on this website in a series of national and regional case studies, occasional papers, and bulletins. As part of its work, the OpenNet Initiative also operated a "clearinghouse" for circumvention technologies that assess and evaluate systems intended to let users bypass filtering and surveillance. They also actively developed circumvention technologies in-house as a means to explore the limitations of filtration and counter-filtration practices.

This was the website.  content below is from the site's 2004-2006 archived pages.

To get the most up to date news about the OpenNet Initiative research​, go to their current website at:​



CSP is affiliated to the University of Cambridge Centre of International Studies and has working links with a number of other University Departments.

CSP is run jointly by an Academic Director, Prof. James Mayall, and an Executive Director, Peter Cavanagh. The Academic Director is responsible for all matters of academic substance, the Executive Director for all managerial, strategic marketing and financial matters, organisational development and political networking. They are jointly responsible for strategy and institutional development.

CSP works with a series of project directors who are responsible for individual clusters of research projects and their respective academic teams. Currently CSP research is led by Dr. Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni (Networks), Dr. Yezid Sayigh (Middle-East Peacekeeping), Nicholas Sinclair-Brown (Financial Risk Reduction Strategies) and Rafal Rohozinski (ITC).

CSP is advised by an Academic Steering Committee set up by the Centre of International Studies, presently made up of Prof. James Mayall, Prof. Geoffrey Hawthorne, Dr. Philip Towle, Dr. Charles Jones, Dr. Glen Rangwala and Dr. Mette Eitstrup-Sangiovanni. CSP also enjoys the support of a university-wide Academic Review Team, drawn from such varied disciplines as Social Anthropology, Computing, Divinity, Political Science, History, Law and the Sciences.

In the spring of 2004, CSP took on a full time Programme Manager, a Junior Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College Cambridge as Academic Co-coordinator and a PhD candidate and professional journalist as Programme Development Co-ordinator.

CSP rents its own office space in the old centre of Cambridge, which provides space for network researchers and visitors planning to join the Programme, as well as for CSP staff.

Principle Aim of CSP Research Projects

The principle aim of CSP Research Projects is to add value to the quality of knowledge and understanding relating to issues of human insecurity, to the quality of policy making and to the well-being of Society in General.

The meta-theme of ‘Human Insecurity’ is defined as the study (and synthesis) of the components of global conflict and danger, and of their linkages. This process is further broken down into three fields, in each of which CSP will develop a ‘core competence’. These are:

  1. Individual perceptions, mind-sets and motivations of those in conflict.
  2. Social interaction; networks, structure and institutions, including ICT networking.
  3. Risk, decision-making and policy formation.

The core competencies will encompass the study of a) cultural differences and subjective experiences of those posing threats or devising responses, b) how both hierarchical and non-hierarchical organisations, formal and informal, and legal and extra-legal networks operate to enhance or erode human security, and c) the development and dissemination of new concepts and processes necessary for the formulation of effective policy responses to the risks that are inherent in a rapidly changing world.

— The first core competencies will be built around a cluster of research projects, each with an academic project director or leader.

— Research Projects fall within a CSP intellectual framework and are subject to strict selection criteria. These criteria are: their relevance to one of the competences, their added value in the longer term, their multi-disciplinary involvement and their ability to circulate output that will be of use to decision- and policy-makers.

The three ‘core competencies’, when taken together, will differentiate CSP, they each will be developed as applied knowledge-models, to be disseminated as intellectual backbones to public and private decision makers


Airey Neave Research Project

The Cambridge Security Seminar

Palestinian Peacekeeping Project

Advanced Network Research Group
OpenNet Initiative
    InfoWar Monitor
  Palestinian Info. Society Project

Psychopathology of Socio-Political Control




In the post-9/11 world, international terrorism, cultural and ethnic turmoil, and the effects of globalisation, have introduced a complex set of security challenges that require inter-related, multi-level responses. Founded just six months after the tragic events of 9/11, CSP (formerly known as the Cambridge Programme for Security in International Society, C-SIS) is Cambridge University’s answer to the compelling need for new ways to address the instability and uncertainties that characterise the current climate of insecurity. Integrating the resources of a world-class university, this innovative research-based programme brings a broad-based perspective and cross-disciplinary approach to the issues.

CSP works closely with the Centre of International Studies, while drawing on work from other Faculties including history, anthropology, computing, divinity, international law, and the social and political sciences. Just as importantly, it promotes cross-institutional research and inquiry, combining work by younger scholars with more established academics and practitioners to develop pragmatic new approaches to the challenges at hand. The roster of projects already in process is both exciting and far-reaching. CSP has already been approached by governments in East Europe and Central Asia, military establishments in both the UK and US, and other universities here and abroad. It’s first book, The New Security Paradigm, which draws on a Seminar co-hosted with the British government in the summer of 2003, has just come off the press. Pilots for several exciting new projects are expected to begin soon, once funding is in place. Already, in the first year since its inception, CSP has hosted seminars, round-tables, workshops and undertaken several specialised studies. We expect that the energy and synergy that CSP brings to the challenges of security will mean continued expansion this coming year.

—Professor James Mayal, Academic Director

What is CSP?

CSP is important because:

  • it facilitates dialogue among public, private and the corporate sectors, helping to unravel complex security issues, and offering solutions to the different needs of varying environment
  • it applies intellectual breadth of knowledge and a range of academic research to pragmatic problem-solving
  • it works within an international context to develop relevant ‘knowledge models’ that are adapted to meet the needs of specific situations
  • it draws on an international web of academics, post-graduates and experts, combining broad range scholarship with input from long established links with top-class institutions around the world.


Cambridge Security focuses on three core competencies:

  • Mindset: The Why?
    The cultural perceptions, paradigms and orientations underlying the causes of instability and insecurity;
  • Networking: The How?
    The legal and illegal interactions, structures and institutions, including information and communication technologies (ICT), developing in the present environment;
  • Actions and Decisions: The What?
    Risk assessment, policy formulation, corporate responses and long-term strategic mechanisms to protect against threat and prepare for new challenges.

Information Output

  • Specialised research (topic-specific studies and the development of knowledge models);
  • Closed round-tables;
  • Conferences and seminars in collaboration with partner institutions;
  • Publications: research papers, working-paper series, booklets;
  • Ongoing open workshop series;
  • Specialised studies for the government, corporate and NGO sectorsthe Seminar’s organisers to establish a process that would have lasting impact on policy formulation in a variety of ways. The results of this Game in turn fed directly into the review of the Government’s current defence requirements.
  • A workshop in 2003 commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to undertake a peer review of current government research on illegal terrorist networks, led by CSP.

IMAGE: photo-newsmedley.jpg

The Cambridge Security Programme has completed several different types of projects since its introduction to Cambridge University in May 2002 and its formal launch in London in October 2002 at the offices of Goldman Sachs. In defining ‘Human Security’ in the post-9/11 environment as the study of the components and linkages of global conflict and danger, CSP is now starting to generate regular activity and new cross-bred knowledge.


  • CSP commissioned four preliminary pilot research projects over 2002/2003. Each resulted in a draft working paper.
  • The US/Saudi connection – ‘Hamas Funding’ – was a research project conducted by Ronan Bergman, Faculty of History at Cambridge, which collected and compared evidence of Hamas funding through the United States. It indicated that American support for Hamas may have been enabled by the FBI and other US organisations interested primarily in destroying Arafat (and Fatah). <
  • Research into the export of fundamentalist Islam to the Balkans, ‘Wahhabism in Bosnia’ by H. Alibăsic (under the direction of the Cambridge Faculty of Divinity), which revealed Saudi investment in the war-torn Muslim areas of post-war Bosnia. Each project resulted in a working paper. 
  • Bernadette Vanova, Faculty of Law at Cambridge, researched ‘Non-legal, informal networks in Japan’ and their effect on the Japanese financial sector. Based on empirical investigation conducted in Japan, Vanova analysed aspects of network organisation based on trust, and the balance between formal and informal organisations under the law. This material was subsequently adopted for further use by the Ministry of Defence. 
  • A project, co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat, was undertaken by Mr. Nick Sinclair-Brown at the Lauterpacht Centre of International Law at Cambridge, on Risk Reduction Strategies. This pilot research identified key elements of how public sector works in the United Kingdom are organised under the strategy of ‘Private Finance Initiatives’ (PFIs), and how these could form the basis for financing international infrastructure development (RRS) in developing countries. This resulted in a paper presented in Brunei in September 2003.

Closed Events

  • In July 2003, CSP co-hosted, an innovative collaboration with various Departments of the UK Government, including the Ministry of Defence, a Security Seminar to respond to recent world events that had defied entrenched assumptions regarding the predictability and manageability of instability and conflict. Bringing together academics and members of government, military, police and corporate sectors, the 2-day seminar was intended to stimulate explorations into new ways of understanding threats and formulating appropriate responses. Built around research presentations and interactive work groups, the Cambridge Security Seminar was designed to build synergies among the 150 expert participants to enable them to define and develop practical action-oriented policy approaches to today’s new and complex security issues. Delegates focussed on four key inter-related themes: networking, root causes, instruments of mass effect and policy options. The focus was on identifying emerging problems and challenging conventional wisdom, with the intention of improving the way thinking and decision-making affected policy-making.
  • Within a few months following the Cambridge Security Seminar, the Ministry of Defence decided to subject key issues discussed at the Seminar to more rigorous analysis in order to test their relevance for policy. This was undertaken at a subsequent Policy-Military Game in October 2003, fulfilling the intention of the Seminar’s organisers to establish a process that would have lasting impact on policy formulation in a variety of ways. The results of this Game in turn fed directly into the review of the Government’s current defence requirements.
  • A workshop in 2003 commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to undertake a peer review of current government research on illegal terrorist networks, led by CSP.
  • A roundtable took place in November 2002, sponsored by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Washington, D.C. and led by CSP, to consider the challenges of catastrophic terrorism. The objective was to begin a dialogue, initially on the issue of rogue states and terrorism, but to recognise that their presence brings on insecurities and instabilities that go far beyond these overt hostilities. Immediately at risk are financial markets, the Internet, supply chains, civil liberties—all requiring government to institute confidence-building measures. The roundtable drew attendees from US and UK academic, corporate, media and government communities, and resulted in a publication, ">Catastrophic Terrorism.
  • A roundtable was held in June, 2004 at Corpus Christi College, on approaches to State Failure, with top experts from Cambridge, other UK institutions and CERI France, led by CSP. Focused primarily on states in Africa, the discussion addressed the parameters of failure, the policies of international institutions tasked to define and rescue failed states, the regional ramifications, and alternative methods of governance. State Failure

Open Events

  • An open Workshop at the Centre of International Studies in Cambridge in 2003 presented the results of the first three pilot projects, led by CSP.
  • A talk and discussion led by CSP took place at Corpus Christi College on 27 January, 2004 with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Dragan Mikerevic. Discussants included H.E. Mrs Elvira Begovic, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in London, and Professor James Mayall of CSP. Among the topics addressed in open discussion were: Criteria for success in Bosnia, its likelihood and the stumbling blocks being encountered; and Lessons learned: a view of past actions, and of what should and should not have been done.
  • In June 2004, Dr. Roland Marchal of the Centre d’Études et Recherches Internationales, Paris, presented a seminar on Somalia and the French approach to failed states, led by Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, academic coordinator of CSP, at the Centre of International Studies.
  • In January 2004, CSP supported the Cambridge-based conference, ‘New Transatlantic Relationships: Facing Challenges of the 21st Century’, an event jointly hosted by the Cambridge Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence and the Donner Atlantic Studies Programme. CSP-sponsored guest speaker, Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, international editor for Die Ziet and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington, DC. She flew in from Berlin, to present a hard-hitting European view of the transatlantic relationship.