[ooni-talk] OONI Monthly Report: October 2021

Maria Xynou maria at openobservatory.org
Fri Jan 14 12:07:25 UTC 2022


Happy new year! Hope you're all doing well.

These days we're primarily supported by the DRL, which is why we do
quarterly reporting. That said, we'd like to share monthly updates from the
OONI team with the community, hence our October 2021 report shared below.
I'll also follow-up to share our November and December 2021 reports.

*# OONI Monthly Report: October 2021*

Throughout October 2021, the OONI team worked on the following sprints:

* Sprint 49 - Humpback whale (1st - 10th October 2021)
* Sprint 50 - Amphipoda (11th - 24th October 2021)

Our work can be tracked through the various OONI GitHub repositories:

Highlights are shared in this report below.

*## Published research report on the blocking of the Signal Private
Messenger App*

We published a research report which shares OONI data and analysis on the
blocking of the Signal Private Messenger App in Iran, China, Cuba, and

This report is available here:

In April 2021, we released a new OONI Probe test for measuring the blocking
of the Signal Private Messenger App (https://ooni.org/nettest/signal).
Since then, OONI community members tested Signal worldwide every day,
contributing measurements as open data:

As part of this study, we analyzed all Signal measurements collected from
around the world between April 2021 to September 2021. During this period,
we found that the testing of Signal primarily presented signs of blocking
in Iran, China, Cuba, and Uzbekistan. Further information and findings are
available in our research report.

*## OONI Probe Mobile*

We released OONI Probe Mobile 3.3.1 for Android (
https://github.com/ooni/probe-android/releases/tag/v3.3.1) which includes
bug fixes and optimizations.

In particular, we:
* Fixed an Android bug related to our RiseupVPN test:
* Fixed an Android bug related to automated runs:
* Fixed an Android bug related to our use of Sentry for crash reports:

We also worked on:
* Adding support for detecting if an OONI Probe user is behind a VPN:
* Adding support for a VPN label and modal:
* Deleting logs weekly (instead of immediately):

*## OONI Probe Desktop*

We released OONI Probe Desktop 3.6.0:

This release includes our new Experimental card, which currently features
our STUN reachability test. We plan to release new experimental tests as
part of this new card.

OONI Probe Desktop 3.6.0 also includes support for 2 new languages: Swahili
and Dutch. We thank the Localization Lab community for ongoing OONI Probe
translations, and we are particularly grateful to Tanzania’s Zaina
Foundation for leading efforts related to translating OONI Probe to Swahili
(and increasing the reach of our app in East Africa).

We also released OONI Probe Desktop 3.6.1 (
https://github.com/ooni/probe-desktop/releases/tag/v3.6.1) with bug fixes
and further improvements.

Moreover, we worked on improvements towards a new OONI Probe CLI release (

*## Expanding censorship measurement methodologies*

Shipping our new Websteps experiment (
https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1733) requires deploying the new
Websteps test helper in production. To this end, we worked on comparing the
old with the new OONI Probe test helper (
https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1707). This required extensive testing
and investigation to ensure that no issues emerge when we deploy the new
test helper.

We now have some TLS parroting capabilities in our miniooni research tool (
https://github.com/ooni/probe-cli#miniooni), and we started investigating
TLS parroting and interference (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1812).

*## OONI Explorer*

We deployed recently merged OONI Explorer pull requests to production, and
we ensured that anomaly search is included for all supported tests
(including the Signal and RiseupVPN tests). We also worked towards
addressing issues that result in failed measurements not being displayed
correctly (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/issues/611).

Moreover, we refactored OONI Explorer pages to remove the need for a custom
server (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/619), and we upgraded core
dependencies (react, next) to the latest versions (

*## OONI Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT)*

We made several improvements to the OONI Measurement Aggregation Toolkit
(MAT). Specifically, we improved the MAT table view by adjusting the
tooltip UI, sorting labels alphabetically, and deploying progress to

To add interactivity features to the MAT table view, we made filtered table
rows the source for charts, and we fixed the link from the tooltip link to
the search page (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/618), among several
other improvements. To improve the performance of the MAT, we switched to
the Clickhouse-based backend for the MAT pages (

*## Building a web platform for test list updates*

We continued to make progress on the web platform that we’re building to
enable community contributions to the Citizen Lab test lists (

 In particular, we made a series of UI improvements based on initial
community feedback (from the testing of the private beta version of the
platform). We added an onboarding section to guide users through the
process of using the test list web platform (
https://github.com/ooni/test-lists-ui/pull/11). We reduced the ambiguity
between the “notes” and “comment” sections of the web platform (
https://github.com/ooni/test-lists-ui/pull/9). We also improved upon error
messages (https://github.com/ooni/test-lists-ui/pull/8) and added support
for displaying website category descriptions (

*## OONI backend*

In October 2021, we worked on the following OONI backend activities:

* Deployed the new monitoring host;
* Created a set of benchmark queries, and tested BigQuery (as a potential
alternative database) by running benchmark queries against the whole
* Continued to investigate alternative database solutions to boost the
performance of our services by comparing Clickhouse, DuckDB, PostgreSQL 13,
and BigQuery;
* Implemented an experimental PG to Clickhouse feeder;
* Added backend support to the Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT) using
the Clickhouse-based backend;
* Continued to monitor OONI measurement coverage from unattended runs on
OONI Probe Mobile and Desktop;
* Updated DNS handling in ansible and added graphs;
* Continued to investigate missing jsonl files from the s3 bucket (

*## Partnership with Internet Society (ISOC)*

In July 2021, we established a new partnership with Internet Society (ISOC)
to collaborate on the ISOC Pulse project:

In particular, OONI is now a data partner (
https://pulse.internetsociety.org/partners) for ISOC’s Pulse project on
internet shutdowns. Our goal is to provide relevant OONI data and analysis
that can help support the project’s timeline on blocking events around the

In October 2021, ISOC published a blog post which announced OONI as a new
data partner for their Pulse project, and which explained why OONI data
will support their project. Their blog post is available here:

We also updated the OONI Partners page on our website to feature ISOC as
one of our new partners and to highlight their work:

*## Collaboration with Netalitica*

Netalitica researchers continued to do excellent work in reviewing and
updating the Citizen Lab test lists. Based on our feedback, they made
further improvements to the test lists for India and Burundi, and we opened
a pull request for both test list updates:

*## Community use of OONI data### Report on social media blocks in Sudan*

Community members from Sudan published a report which documents the
blocking of social networking sites in Sudan based on OONI data (
Their report is available here:

*## Community activities### DIG Festival 2021*

On 3rd October 2021, OONI’s Arturo participated in a panel discussion at
the DIG Festival for investigative journalism in Modena, Italy (

As part of this panel, Arturo discussed OONI’s censorship measurement
approach and algorithmic censorship.

*### Bachchao Project test list event*

On 9th and 10th October 2021, OONI’s Maria participated in the Bachchao
Project’s 2-day event (organized for communities in India), titled “India,
Let’s Build the List”.

As part of her participation, Maria gave a 1-hour presentation
(“Introduction to Internet censorship”) on Day 1 to introduce participants
to basic concepts around internet censorship. On Day 2 of the event, Maria
demoed OONI’s new web platform for updating test lists, and helped
facilitate the hands-on sessions for updating the Citizen Lab’s test list
for India.

Information about the 2-day event is available via the Bachchao Project’s
relevant blog post:

*### OPTIMA 2.0 Network Measurement Training*

On 21st and 28th October 2021, OONI’s Maria attended Internews’ live
sessions for the “Introduction to Network Measurement” and “OONI” training
modules of the OPTIMA 2.0 training program, where she addressed participant
questions pertaining to the training modules.

Information about Internews’ OPTIMA Network Measurement Training program is
available here:

*### Swahilipot Hub event for HacktoberFest Mombasa*

On 22nd October 2021, OONI’s Maria facilitated an OONI workshop (titled
“How to measure Internet censorship”) for Kenyan civil society as part of
the Swahilipot Hub event for HacktoberFest Mombasa (

*### Ford Foundation Retreat Webinar*

On 28th October 2021, OONI’s Maria participated as a speaker on the Ford
Foundation’s Retreat webinar titled “Designing the Internet We Want”. As
part of her participation, Maria highlighted the importance of censorship
measurement for a free and open internet.

*### OONI Community Meeting*

On 26th October 2021, we hosted the monthly OONI Community Meeting on our
Slack channel (https://slack.ooni.org/), during which we discussed the
following topics:

1. OONI’s research report on the blocking of the Signal app in China, Cuba,
Iran, and Uzbekistan.

2. Improving the OONI Probe sharing button.

3. Featuring latest censorship events and issues (such as those tracked on
GitHub) through the OONI Probe app.

*## Userbase*

In October 2021, 24,910,212 OONI Probe measurements were collected from
2,410 AS networks in 165 countries around the world.

This information can also be found through our measurement stats on OONI
Explorer (see chart on “monthly coverage worldwide”):

~ OONI team.
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