Torbutton : please offer better user agent choices

F. Fox kitsune.or at
Sun Feb 14 02:29:20 UTC 2010

Mike Perry wrote:
> We are not in the habit of providing features that are demonstrably
> bad for anonymity for no reason, and I am certainly not going to
> give such work priority over much more important things such as
> improving the performance of the network as a whole (for ex, my latest
> work:
> The answer is "Use UA Switcher to give yourself a unique ID if you
> want", and that's final. Hell, go ahead and write the SHA1 hash of
> your address and social security number in there if that turns you on.
> It still won't make you look one bit less like a Tor user, I can
> promise you that.

This thread reminds me of a nice analogy from a previous thread:

If Internet users are like the characters from the Peanuts comic strip, 
then Tor users - *regardless* of any settings they may use (Torbutton, 
UA, or otherwise), by virtue of their use of a Tor exit node IP alone - 
look like Charlie Brown.

Since nothing can change that Tor users are Charlie Browns, the key to 
maximizing anonymity - making it as hard as possible to tell any one of 
the Charlie Browns apart from the rest - is to make sure all the Charlie 
Browns look exactly the same.

This is what the standard UA in Torbutton attempts to do: Make sure all 
the Charlie Browns have that same yellow shirt with the zig-zag stripe 
on it. We'll call that UA "foo."

Now if one of the Tor users - one of the Charlie Browns - changes their 
UA to "bar," all of a sudden that Charlie Brown has a RED shirt on.

A red shirt - the "bar" UA - would stand out quite nicely against 4 
million yellow shirts - the standard "foo" UAs. :o)

F. Fox
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