[ooni-talk] OONI Monthly Report: April 2022

Maria Xynou maria at openobservatory.org
Fri Jul 15 10:48:24 UTC 2022


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 April 2022 report shared below.
I'll also follow-up to share our May and June 2022 reports.

*# OONI Monthly Report: April 2022*

Throughout April 2022, the OONI team worked on the following sprints:

* Sprint 62 (1st - 10 April 2022)
* Sprint 63 (11th - 24th April 2022)
* Sprint 64 (25th April - 30th April 2022)

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

Highlights are shared in this report below.

*## Launched the OONI Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT)*

We publicly launched OONI’s new Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT):

The MAT is a tool that enables the public to create their own custom charts
based on aggregate views of real-time OONI data collected from around the
world. This tool was built for researchers, journalists, and human rights
defenders interested in examining internet censorship around the world.

When examining cases of internet censorship, it's important to look at many
measurements at once ("in aggregate") in order to identify censorship
trends and patterns. The MAT incorporates our data analysis techniques,
enabling the public to answer such questions without any data analysis
skills, and with the click of a button!

To provide further details about using the MAT and interpreting MAT charts,
we wrote and published a blog post: https://ooni.org/post/2022-ooni-mat/

We hope the internet freedom community finds the MAT useful for
investigating and responding to internet censorship events around the world.

*### Preparing for the MAT launch*

In preparation for the public launch of OONI’s Measurement Aggregation
Toolkit (MAT), we:
* Improved the interaction between the table and the chart in the
multi-axis charts (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/724);
* Added support for exporting data in CSV format and added links to CSVs
under the charts (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/741);
* Wrote (and published) “Help” text for the MAT (
* Worked on several other bug fixes and improvements (

*## OONI MAT shows social media blocks in Sri Lanka*

OONI’s new Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT) was useful for enabling
human rights defenders to corroborate the social media blocks that were
reported in Sri Lanka between 2nd to 3rd April 2022.

The following OONI MAT charts (which we shared with the #KeepItOn
community) present aggregate views of OONI data, displaying the temporary
blocking of social media services in Sri Lanka on 2nd and 3rd April 2022:

* Twitter:

* Facebook:

* Instagram:

* Facebook Messenger:

* Telegram:

* WhatsApp:

By clicking on each of these charts, the public can access the raw OONI
measurement data, showing details of how the blocks were implemented and
how they vary across ISPs in the country. The links to the above charts are
automatically updated with real-time OONI data.

*##  Circumvention Tool Reachability Dashboard*

We made some improvements to our new Circumvention Tool Reachability
Dashboard, which presents OONI findings from the testing of censorship
circumvention tools around the world (
https://explorer.ooni.org/chart/circumvention). In particular, we added
copy that highlights a limitation to the dashboard, while also encouraging
users to refer to Tor Metrics and the Psiphon Data Engine (
https://github.com/ooni/explorer/issues/726) to gain a more comprehensive
understanding of whether circumvention tools work in a country.

*## OONI Explorer network-centric views*

In April 2022, we worked on implementing network-centric views for OONI
Explorer (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/issues/744). The implementation
(and subsequent review, feedback, and improvements) is available through
the following pull request: https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/750

*## OONI Probe Mobile*

We released OONI Probe iOS 3.6.0:

This release includes the following improvements:
* New Tor Snowflake experiment
* New DNS Check experiment
* RiseupVPN test temporarily disabled
* Links to OONI blog posts and research reports
* User-initiated tests start off minimized
* Improved progress bar and test runtime counter
* Measurement engine synced with OONI Probe CLI 3.14
* Bug fixes and improvements

We followed-up with an OONI Probe iOS 3.6.1 release (
https://github.com/ooni/probe-ios/releases/tag/v3.6.1) with bug fixes and

Notably, we set up a Huawei AppGallery account, where we released the OONI
Probe Android app (https://appgallery.huawei.com/app/C105911849).

We also worked on:
* Adding support for sharing a link to the OONI Probe app (
* Making the OONI Probe VPN check compatible with Netguard firewall (
* Writing an internal design document for improving the architecture of
OONI Probe apps for shared codebases;
* Adding support for paginating test results (
* Fixing a bug involving the re-run of failed tests (
* Fixing a bug affecting a link on the test details page (
* Other improvements (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1252,

*## Expanding censorship measurement methodologies*

Our goal is to ensure that our new experiments (particularly Websteps, our
new experiment for measuring website blocking) are effective in some of the
most censored environments and meet community needs. Following several
rounds of community feedback, we developed our latest prototype (“Websteps
winter edition”) in March 2022.

In April 2022, we started discussing the “Websteps winter edition” (
https://github.com/bassosimone/websteps-illustrated/) prototype with
community members, we collected their feedback, and we drafted plans for
incorporating changes developed in this prototype inside of ooniprobe.

We also read the “Understanding the Practices of Global Censorship through
Accurate, End-to-End Measurements” paper (
https://shhaos.github.io/papers/sigmetrics22.pdf) and we started
experimenting with its methodologies to understand how to integrate them
into ooniprobe (https://github.com/bassosimone/websteps-illustrated/pull/2).

*## Building a web platform for updating test lists*

We continued to make progress towards launching our new web platform for
updating test lists (https://test-lists.ooni.org/).

Specifically, we made improvements related to:
*  Validating the login form (https://github.com/ooni/test-lists-ui/pull/28
*  Setting the default source field (
*  Upgrading to the latest versions of next.js (

We also discussed some approaches that would allow us to support multiple
edits after the changes have been submitted, and we documented how this can
be implemented in the backend (https://github.com/ooni/backend/issues/588).

*## OONI backend### Migration to the Clickhouse database*

We continued to work on various tasks related to the ongoing migration to
an OLAP database that delivers much better performance and enables new
functionalities like the MAT.
We migrated multiple API calls to the host running the new database and we
improved monitoring. This is a long-running process.

*### Reprocessing legacy measurements*

OONI measurements collected before 2021 have been reprocessed to improve
data quality and to ensure all measurements are now reachable from OONI
Explorer. This is also a long-running process.

*### URL prioritization*

The "reactive" URL prioritization system is designed to ensure acceptable
and fair coverage of URLs over time. But based on community feedback (
https://github.com/ooni/backend/issues/582), we realized that the existing
implementation could allow a manually-run probe to over-measure a given URL
and prevent other probes from measuring this URL at all on a national
level. We therefore investigated how we can change the implementation of
our URL prioritization algorithm to ensure that per-ASN testing coverage
does not impact countrywide testing coverage of a URL. Based on our
research, we wrote an internal design document for improving our URL
prioritization system.

*### Other operations*

We added support for STUN reachability tests in the API search function. We
improved NTP dashboards and monitoring, fixed IPv6 and ICMP filtering
on backend
hosts, and we moved the test-helper rotation tool to use Debian 11 and
fixed a bug. We also looked into the price/performance ratio on new hosts.

*## OONI data analysis tool*

To enable the analysis of raw OONI measurements, we built a tool
(“oonidata”) which supports downloading raw OONI data in batch (
https://github.com/ooni/backend/issues/581). In April 2022, we published a
version of oonidata on pypi (https://pypi.org/project/oonidata/).

*## Preparing a security audit*

We aim to receive a security audit for several OONI software components:
OONI API accounts, OONI Probe Web, OONI Probe engine. To this end, we
coordinated with several security companies to discuss audit requirements
and receive quotes.

*## Filmed OONI training course for Advocacy Assembly project*

In previous months, we completed the creation of all materials for the
online OONI training course for Small Media’s Advocacy Assembly project (

In April 2022, OONI’s Maria traveled to London to record 8 direct-to-camera
videos at a studio (with Small Media staff) for the online OONI training

In particular, this involved the filming of the following videos:
* Introduction to course
* What is internet censorship?
* The problem of internet censorship
* What is OONI Probe?
* Interpreting OONI data
* What is OONI Explorer?
* Looking at OONI data in aggregate
* Conclusion

Small Media aims to launch the online OONI training course over the next

*## ISOC Pulse project on Internet shutdowns*

OONI is a data partner for the Internet Society (ISOC) Pulse project
on Internet
shutdowns (https://pulse.internetsociety.org/partners). We aim to
contribute OONI data (along with relevant charts and information) for all
the “content blocking” events listed on the ISOC Pulse shutdowns timeline (

We created OONI reports (including OONI data, charts, and relevant
interpretation of the findings) for the following 4 “content blocking”
entries listed in the ISOC Pulse shutdown timeline:

* April 2022 - Sri Lanka (
* February 2022 - Russia (
* January 2022 - Burkina Faso (
* August 2021 - Zambia (

We shared our reports with ISOC to be listed under the “Data and Analysis”
section of relevant ISOC Pulse shutdown entries.

*## Report for Azerbaijan Internet Watch*

In support of our partner, Azerbaijan Internet Watch (
https://ooni.org/partners/azerbaijan-internet-watch/), we analyzed OONI
measurements collected from Azerbaijan between January 2022 to March 2022.
Based on our analysis, we produced charts and wrote a report interpreting
the findings, which we shared with Azerbaijan Internet Watch.

*## Test list updates*

In April 2022, we contributed a few updates to the Citizen Lab test lists (
https://github.com/citizenlab/test-lists/pull/957), and we reviewed and
merged several test list pull requests opened by community members (

*## Job opening for bookkeeper*

In collaboration with the Hermes Center (OONI’s current fiscal sponsor), we
published a job opening for hiring a new bookkeeper:

Throughout April 2022, we worked on managing and reviewing applications,
following up with candidates, and interviewing shortlisted candidates for
the position.

*## OONI featured in Dataplane.org newsletter*

OONI was among the measurement platforms (along with Censored Planet, RIPE
Atlas, and NLNOG Ring) discussed in Dataplane.org’s April 2022 newsletter:

*## Notable community use of OONI Probe and OONI data### Access Now’s 2021
Annual KeepItOn Report*

Access Now published their 2021 Annual #KeepItOn campaign Report (“The
Return Of Digital
Authoritarianism: Internet shutdowns in 2021”):

This report makes use of OONI data, citing OONI research reports (
https://ooni.org/reports)  and OONI data from OONI Explorer (

*### VEsinFiltro’s 2021 Annual Report*

In April 2022, our Venezuelan partner, VEsinFiltro, published their 2021
Annual Report on digital rights and internet censorship in Venezuela:

In the Methodology section of their report, VEsinFiltro describe that they
measured internet blocks in Venezuela through the use of OONI Probe and
OONI data.

*## Community activities### Mozilla Twitter Space on network outages*

On 5th April 2022, OONI’s Maria participated as a speaker on Mozilla’s
Twitter Space discussion on network outages:

As part of her participation, Maria explained OONI’s methods and discussed
how OONI had previously analyzed Mozilla telemetry (in collaboration with
IODA) to investigate internet shutdowns (
The recording was available here: https://twitter.com/i/spaces/1MnxnkayOXEKO

*### OONI data analysis lecture for Georgia Tech students*

On 12th April 2022, OONI’s Arturo was invited by IODA (
https://ioda.inetintel.cc.gatech.edu/) to give a lecture to Georgia Tech
computer science students on analyzing OONI data to investigate internet
censorship. In preparation for this lecture, Arturo prepared a Jupyter
notebook with exercises for the students.

*### OONI Community Meeting*

On 19th April 2022, we hosted the monthly OONI Community Meeting on our
Slack channel (https://slack.ooni.org/), during which we discussed the
following topics:

1) New launch: OONI Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT)

2) New test list web platform (https://test-lists.ooni.org/): Community
feedback and next steps
3) Tweaking OONI’s URL prioritization algorithm to ensure counts per ASN (

4) Inconsistent measurement counts returned by API endpoints (

*## Userbase*

In April 2022, 41,200,730 OONI Probe measurements were collected from 3,372
AS networks in 162 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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