FOCI '18 Call for Papers

The 8th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI '18) will take place August 14, 2018, and will be co-located with the 27th USENIX Security Symposium in Baltimore, MD, USA.

Sponsored by USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association

Important Dates

  • Paper submissions due: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 (no extensions)
  • Notification to authors: Thursday, June 21, 2018
  • Final papers due: Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Workshop Organizers

Program Co-Chairs

Lex Gill, The Citizen Lab
Rob Jansen, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Program Committee

Ryan Calo, University of Washington
Masashi Crete-Nishihata, The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto
Roger Dingledine, Tor Project
Tariq Elahi, KU Leuven
Roya Ensafi, University of Michigan
Nick Feamster, Princeton University
Phillipa Gill, University of Massachusetts — Amherst
Seda Gurses, KU Leuven
Jennifer Helsby, Freedom of the Press Foundation
Bill Marczak, University of California, Berkeley
Jonathan Mayer, Princeton University
Susan E. McGregor, Columbia Journalism School
Fenwick McKelvey, Concordia University
Riana Pfefferkorn, Stanford Center for Internet and Society
Christopher Soghoian
Michael Carl Tschantz, International Computer Science Institute
Sarah West, University of Southern California, Annenberg
Phillip Winter, Princeton University
Joss Wright, University of Oxford
Eric Wustrow, University of Colorado, Boulder

Steering Committee

Jon  Penney, The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto/Dalhousie
Jed Crandall, University of New Mexico
Roger Dingledine, The Tor Project
Nick Feamster, Princeton University
Casey Henderson, USENIX Association
Kurt Opsahl, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Vern Paxson, University of California, Berkeley, and International Computer Science Institute (ICSI)
Joss Wright, University of Oxford


The 8th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI '18) will bring together researchers and practitioners from technology, law, and policy who are working on means to study, detect, or circumvent practices that inhibit free and open communications on the Internet.

Internet communications drive political and social change around the world. Governments and other actors seek to control, monitor, and block Internet communications for a variety of reasons, ranging from extending copyright law to suppressing free speech and assembly. Methods for controlling what content people post and view online are also multifarious. Whether it's traffic throttling by ISPs or man-in-the-middle attacks by countries seeking to identify those who are organizing protests, threats to free and open communications on the Internet raise a wide range of research and interdisciplinary challenges.


We encourage submission of new, interesting work on a wide variety of topics of interest, including but in no way limited to the following areas:

  • Measurement, detection, and analysis (including metrics) of Internet censorship and censorship circumvention tools
  • Techniques to detect, circumvent, or analyze the impact of mass surveillance or its effects
  • Usability and performance studies for censorship-resistant systems
  • Understanding censoring adversaries and attack capabilities, including theoretical modeling/analysis and surveillance tools
  • Deployment of circumvention mechanisms in real-world platforms such as Tor
  • Legal, economic, policy, social, and ethical analysis of issues in relation to Internet censorship, surveillance, or surveillance/censorship circumvention practices and tools
  • Legal, economic, policy, social, and/or ethical considerations in the design and deployment of censorship or censorship-resistant tools
  • The role of private corporations in enabling surveillance and censorship
  • Effects of censorship or surveillance on individuals, society, business, or political processes
  • Extraterritorial effects of domestic and regional legislation on global populations seeking free and secure communications

We emphasize that this workshop seeks to draw submissions from a range of disciplines. As such, non-technical work that examines the wider implications of censorship, surveillance, and their effects will be considered favorably.

What to Submit

FOCI will favor interesting and new ideas and early results that lead to well-founded position papers. We envision that work presented at FOCI will ultimately be published at relevant, high-quality conferences. Papers will be selected primarily based on originality, with additional consideration given to their potential to generate discussion at the workshop. Papers in the technical track will also be evaluated based on technical merit.

FOCI is a single track event, but we invite two distinct types of paper submission: technically-focused position papers or works-in-progress; and papers focused on policy, law, regulation, economics, or related fields of social science and study.

Submission Guidelines

  • Technical Papers: Submitted papers must be no longer than six 8.5" x 11" pages, based on the standard USENIX format. References will not count towards the six-page limit.
  • All Technical Track papers should be in the standard USENIX format. Specifically, regarding page limits, your paper should be typeset in two-column format in 10-point type on 12-point (single-spaced) leading, with a text block no more than 6.5" wide by 9" deep, on U.S. letter-size (8.5" x 11") paper.
  • Law/Social Science Papers: Submitted papers must be no longer than 15 8.5" x 11" pages based on the standard USENIX format or, if preferable, 15 single-spaced pages using normal 8.5" x 11" format pages. Shorter papers are encouraged where possible, though organizers will be more flexible on page count with this track, granting exceptions on a case-by-case basis. References will not count towards the page limit.
  • Law/Social Science Track papers are not required to be in the standard USENIX format but can be. Papers must still fit on U.S. letter-size (8.5" x 11") paper. This track aims to encourage submissions from fields such as law, economics, and public policy, where longer articles are traditional.

Authors should not submit technically-focused papers to the social science track in order to avoid page limits—such papers may be rejected out of hand.

Papers must be submitted via the submission form, and must be submitted in a form suitable for anonymous review: no author names or affiliations may appear on the title page, and authors should avoid revealing their identities in the text. When referring to your previous work, do so in the third person, as though it were written by someone else. Only blind the reference itself in the (unusual) case that a third-person reference is infeasible.

Please do not hesitate to contact the program co-chairs at if you have any questions about the submission process or other aspects of FOCI ‘18.

Papers that do not comply with the submission requirements, including length and anonymity, may be rejected without review. All accepted papers will be available online to registered attendees before the workshop. If your paper should not be published prior to the event, please notify The papers will be available online to everyone beginning on the day of the workshop, August 14, 2018.

Simultaneous submission of the same work to multiple venues, submission of previously published work, or plagiarism constitutes dishonesty or fraud. USENIX, like other scientific and technical conferences and journals, prohibits these practices and may take action against authors who have committed them. See the USENIX Conference Submissions Policy for details. Note, however, that we expect that many working papers accepted for FOCI '18 will eventually be extended as full papers suitable for formal academic publication and presentation at future conferences, and such papers are eligible for submission to FOCI.

Questions? Contact your program co-chairs,, or the USENIX office, Papers accompanied by nondisclosure agreement forms will not be considered. Accepted submissions will be treated as confidential prior to publication on the USENIX FOCI '18 website; rejected submissions will be permanently treated as confidential.