Samuel Woodhams is the Digital Rights Lead at Top10VPN.com. He researches issues of censorship, surveillance and internet freedom 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 frequently works with leading advocacy organisations fighting to protect internet freedoms.
Samuel’s research has been featured in the BBC, Reuters, Washington Post, Financial Times, The Guardian, and Business Insider.
He is an accredited journalist and member of the National Union of Journalists. He has written about global digital rights issues for WIRED, CNN, Quartz, Al Jazeera, Business Insider, Deutsche Welle, The Diplomat, and World Politics Review.
Samuel is a frequent guest on BBC’s Digital Planet radio programme and has also appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia and BBC’s Travel Show.
You can listen to Samuel’s radio interviews with the BBC on Spotify, or watch his CNBC interview in the video below:
Samuel has focused on a variety of digital rights issues and has a particular interest in how increased surveillance risks undermining human rights. His most recent research includes:
- The Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns: annual report and a live tracker documenting the economic and social costs of internet shutdowns around the world.
- COVID-19 Digital Rights Tracker: a live index that records states’ technological response to the pandemic.
- UK Video Surveillance Investigation: Samuel sent over 50 Freedom of Information requests to unearth the true role of Chinese tech within the UK’s surveillance infrastructure.
- Home Office to Host Controversial Surveillance Companies: Samuel discovered that Hikvision and other controversial companies were due to attend a Home Office-sponsored trade show.
Articles & Op-eds
To access all of Samuel’s features and op-eds, view his Muck Rack profile. Some of his notable articles include:
- WIRED: A Secretive Home Office Unit has Hoarded Data on Millions of People
- Quartz: Huawei Says Its Surveillance Tech Will Keep African Cities Safe but Activists Worry It’ll Be Misused
- Business Insider: UK Firms Are Selling Invasive Spy Tech To Repressive Governments Around the World
- Deutsche Welle: Huawei, Africa and the Global Reach of Surveillance Technology
- Center for International Media Assistance: The Rise of Internet Throttling
- Georgetown Journal of Intentional Affairs: China, Africa, and the Private Surveillance Industry
Academic & Political Citations
Samuel’s research has been cited in several leading academic journals and political reports. Some highlights include:
- United Nations General Assembly: Impact of New Technologies on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Assemblies, Including Peaceful Protests,
- UK House of Commons: MP Nus Ghani cited Samuel’s research on Chinese surveillance technology in London, as reported by Reuters.
- World Health Organisation: Selecting Digital Contact Tracing and Quarantine Tools for COVID-19 : Guiding Principles and Considerations for a Stepwise Approach
- UK Parliament: Written Evidence Submitted by the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management
- Steven Feldstein: Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on China’s Strategic Aims in Africa
- University of Oxford: Ethical Guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 Digital Tracking and Tracing Systems
- Harvard University: Ethical Implementation of Wearables in Pandemic Response: A Call for a Paradigm Shift
Samuel brings extensive experience and a deep understanding of the interrelated fields of technology and politics.
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, activists in Ethiopia, journalists in Egypt, digital rights campaigners in Hong Kong, and academics in South Africa.
Samuel is currently overseeing Top10VPN’s Digital Rights Grant, which seeks to provide a platform for researchers to conduct primary research on a wide range of critical digital rights issues.
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 email@example.com.