[tor-dev] moved from [Tor-censorship-events] Improving the censorship event detector.

l.m ter.one.leeboi at hush.com
Fri Aug 21 13:28:52 UTC 2015

Hi George,

You sell yourself short. It was a good first attempt. Now I should
clarify. The last time I spoke to Karsten about this they indicated
that the measurement team has other priorities (not obvious from the
outdated roadmap). Karsten quoted an approximation of a year+ before a
replacement is expected.

I'm just an anon to them so I cannot change these things. I hope that
clarifies your question of interest.

On the other hand, my interest in the censorship detector started as
an improvement to metrics-lib and onionoo. In it's basic form the fork
takes the data, recognizes patterns using applied linguistics, and
performs some actions. Getting the data for analysis of censorship is
in some ways a simplification. However progress will be slower than
you might like because the effort here will be split between this and
the fork of metrics-lib. 

I really do appreciate your interest (and that of Joss) so I'd like to
keep this discussion going. 

In the paper by Joss Wright et al, events besides just censorship were
found to be of use as an indicator of an environment where censoring
services leads to an increase in tor use. This sounds like the
database you mention. If such a database included events like China's
attack on GitHub, or Turkey blocking twitter, or various other
social-political indicators, this would make for a concrete
improvement from the perspective of public-research stakeholders. I
was also inspired by a recent paper that showed how linguistics can be
applied to sample the social-political discourse to predict events. In
the absence of data for a country, and service, if social indicators
show dissatisfaction with a policy to block the service, you can
consider this an entry to the database. Over time this sampling would
lead to differing discourses which could be used to not just predict
anomalies but to help identify why people use tor, and what motivates
the censor. The only downside here is I'm not fluent in multiple
spoken languages, so there may be some loss of context if the data
source is chosen arbitrarily.

When it comes to distinguishing reachability and interference, a
client may try to use tor at a laundry center in an otherwise
`democratic` and `free` country. This location is independently
controlled by the owner, and if they decide to block tor, that's ok.
That shouldn't be included. This type of event is unlikely to
influence results terribly anyway. I do wish OONI Project could help
more here.

That just leaves the tor project developer stakeholder. I think I will
leave this stakeholder to it's own devices. It's questionable to ask
someone who's being censored to run any test without some assurance of
their safety.

That's all from me for now. 
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