Samuel Woodhams

Digital Rights Lead

Samuel Woodhams is Digital Rights Lead at Top10VPN.com. He researches issues of censorship, surveillance and disinformation with the aim of promoting open, inclusive and secure digital spaces for all.  

He’s interested in how Virtual Private Networks can help those living in high censorship countries stay safe online and access the entire web, frequently working with leading advocacy organisations fighting to protect the internet freedoms. 

He has written about global digital rights issues for CNN, Quartz, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, The Diplomat, World Politics Review, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Just Security.  He also recently appeared on BBC’s Digital Planet radio programme and the Interpret podcast to discuss his work. 

His research on the cost of internet shutdowns has been referenced by The Guardian, Washington Post, CNNCNBCThe IndependentWall Street JournalReuters, and many others. Recently, his investigations into the private surveillance industry were also cited in The Guardian and Business Insider.

In the coming weeks and months, Samuel will be working on our COVID-19 Digital Rights Tracker, documenting new initiatives implemented in response to the virus that threaten digital rights. He recently appeared on the BBC’s Digital Planet to discuss the project.

He is currently writing a peer-reviewed article for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown University’s flagship international affairs publication, on China’s role in the rise of digital authoritarianism in Africa.

Experience

Samuel brings extensive experience and a deep understanding of the interrelated fields of technology and politics. He has written on a vast variety of topics, from disinformation campaigns in Ukraine to the spread of Chinese surveillance technology in Africa. 

By attending international conferences, including the Internet Freedom Festival, RightsCon and the Internet Governance Forum, Samuel has had the opportunity to learn from and work with leading organisations in the fight to protect digital rights. 

In 2019, he worked with Internet Sans Frontières to help deliver mobile data and VPN apps to activists working in Chad, where a social media shutdown lasted for 16 months.  

His research has involved interviews with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, activists in Ethiopia, journalists in Egypt, digital rights campaigners in Hong Kong, and academics in South Africa.

Through his work, he has also formed relationships with representatives from leading NGOs including Freedom House, Amnesty International, Access Now, Article 19 and the National Endowment for Democracy. He also frequently works with members of leading academic research labs such as the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, Stanford’s Global Digital Policy Incubator, and Oxford University’s Internet Institute

He has contributed extensively to our research section and is working to create free, actionable resources to help those at risk from surveillance, censorship and repression online.  

In January 2020, Samuel co-authored the Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns report with Simon Migliano. The findings of the report were referenced by CNN, CNBC, The Guardian, The Independent, Time, Business Insider and Reuters. Samuel was also interviewed on BBC’s Digital Planet radio programme to discuss the report.

Education 

Samuel holds an MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation from the London School of Economics and a BA(Hons) from the University of Leeds in English Literature and History. He has also studied at the University of Copenhagen. 

To discuss Samuel’s research or request comment, please contact him at samuel@top10vpn.com