Phillipa Gill Receives Early Career Award to Examine and Measure Internet Censorship


Stony Brook, NY, February 4, 2014

Phillipa Gill, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University, has been selected to receive a 2014 Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace Program in the amount of $514,000.

The five-year award entitled “CAREER: Illuminating the Impacts of Internet Censorship with Principled Network Measurement,” was made to Gill to direct a study focusing on the development of a system for monitoring and measuring Internet censorship around the world.

Gill’s research will take a look at how nations repurpose Internet protocols and network management products for information control. This unintended use of networking technologies can lead to unpredictable international impact of censorship, and raises many ethical issues when network management products are exported to countries that use them to violate human rights. The use of technology to restrict freedom of speech and persecute dissidents around the globe is a human rights concern.

"Internet censorship measurement is challenging because its implications are largely social, but in order to have real world impact, these results need to be placed on a solid technical foundation," said Dr. Gill. "This CAREER award will help me realize a system that provides concrete technical evidence to inform policy discussions about information controls on the Internet."

Gill's research interests are in computer networks with a focus on network measurement and characterization. She uses novel network measurement techniques, data analysis and ideas from economics to improve security and reliability of networks. Through dialogue with relevant stakeholders on the Internet — standardization bodies, government organizations, and network operators — she works to have real world impact with research.

“Dr. Gill is to be congratulated on joining the ranks of young Stony Brook researchers who have received a prestigious NSF Career award,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University. “Dr. Gill is at the forefront in this crucial field, and this award will help her continue to make strides in researching systems and processes that, on a global scale, will ensure transparency of use where networking technology is concerned.”

Prior to joining Stony Brook University in 2013, Gill was a postdoctoral fellow at The Citizen Lab in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto where she developed the connections required to bring her censorship measurement system to fruition with individuals running measurements around the globe. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 2012 and holds a M.Sc. and Computer Science from the University of Calgary. While pursuing her Ph.D., she spent time as a visiting researcher at AT&T Labs–Research, Boston University, and Microsoft Research.

Among her most impressive honors and awards, Gill received the Best Paper Award at the 2013 Internet Measurement Conference for her paper "Follow the Money: Understanding Economics of Online Aggregation and Advertising;" she received the Best Presentation Award at the 2011 IBM Workshop for Frontiers of Cloud Computing for her presentation, "Understanding Network Failures in Data Centers: Measurement, Analysis, and Implications;" and she received another Best Paper Award in the 2008 Passive and Active Measurement Conference for her paper, "The Flattening Internet Topology: Natural Evolution, Unsightly Barnacles or Contrived Collapse."

Local editor’s note: Phillipa Gill lives in Stony Brook.

About Computer Science Department at Stony Brook University
The Department of Computer Science at SBU, the flagship institution in the State University of New York system, is ranked among the top 20 computer science departments in the nation by the National Research Council. Interdisciplinary collaboration and research recognition elevated the Department to be the largest and strongest unit at Stony Brook University. The Department boasts internationally renowned faculty who have made significant contributions in visual computing, networking, computer systems, cybersecurity, algorithms, verification, and intelligent computing.