[tor-project] Initial roadmap for the anti-censorship team

Kate Krauss ailanthus at riseup.net
Thu Jan 17 15:56:08 UTC 2019

On 2018-12-19 1:34 am, Roger Dingledine wrote:
> Here is an early brainstorming list of the scope for our future
> anti-censorship team. Let us know if we left out a critical category.
> And of course once we have actual team members I expect they will take
> this initial roadmap and do something even smarter than this list. :)

Late to the party and I apologize in advance in case these things are
already happening. Also, special apologies to the UX people--Tor's UX is
:) and I'm not a UX person, just a user who observes and cares about UX.
I'm asking on this list rather than IRC so that a lot of people can
think about it at the same time.

That said:

1. I wonder if we can use personas (personae?) for types of users we
want to be sure to try to reach as part of this anti-censorship project?
I pretty much only care about this because it would be good to reach
them, but funders might care about this, too.

2. Can we set very (even very, very, very) conservative goals for user
traffic in specific countries or for specific personas? This would be
about our mindset in approaching censorship, not to increase pressure on
developers, UX, or anyone else. In addition to their intrinsic use in
helping to diminish censorship, user traffic goals would probably be
welcomed by our funders. Perhaps we could set a few traffic goals as an
experiment to start. Since there are lots of working parts to this
anti-censorship plan, and some don't exist yet (I think?), maybe we
could suggest conservative goals that we try to achieve when/if, say,
Pluggable Transports X and Y are up and running.

When it comes to fighting censorship, quantity has a quality all its



There's a population-based anti-AIDS strategy called "community viral
load" -- you figure out what the total, combined amount of HIV virus is
in a whole city (they did this in San Francisco) and then the whole city
uses multiple strategies, like HIV prevention workshops, better
treatment, more people receiving case management, etc. to try to reduce
it. Lower community viral load = a healthier community with less risk of
HIV transmission. (Each person with HIV may have between 0 and a few
million copies of viral RNA that can be detected by tests).

> (1) BridgeDB:
> - Automated monitoring
> - Understand current usage patterns, consider improving the design
>     Don't get obfs4 bridges blocked by other transports (#28655)
> (2) Pluggable Transports:
> - Improve the PT interface with Tor, to pass logs etc (#25502)
>     [with network team]
> - Tor Browser can use other circumvention tools as proxies (#28556)
>     [with browser team]
> - Specific PTs:
>     Maintain obfs4proxy (like fixing the iat bug that let Kazakhstan block it)
>     Snowflake
>     Httpsproxy
>     Marionette
>     Domain front through community sites
> - Talk to research groups to keep in touch about their PT research work
> (3) Improve Tor user experience for users in censored / crappy networks:
> - Gettor: automated monitoring and automated updates. Improve UX.
> - Understanding and reducing client time to bootstrap [with network team]
>     and other parameters that are tuned poorly for slow networks
> (4) Understand Tor censorship:
> - Tor Browser network testing mode (#23839, #28531) [with browser team]
> - Reachability scanning for the default (shipped in Tor Browser) bridges
>     [with ooni]
> - Understand bridge load and bridge blocking (e.g. fix user counting bugs
>     that are making our Turkey count wrong) [with network / metrics teams]
> (5) Help users use bridges:
> - Help NGOs get their users on bridges (#28015, #28526)
> - Tor Browser *automates* picking the right PTs [with browser team]
> (6) Community outreach and integration: [with community team]
> - [Initial list of outreach partner NGOs elided for now, since some of
>    them have opsec needs to keep their people safe]
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Kate Krauss
Twitter: @aidspol

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