[tor-talk] [liberationtech] Not another Haystack right?

nathan at freitas.net nathan at freitas.net
Sat Dec 3 16:05:49 UTC 2011

I wrote the block of text attributed to Eugene below, and total agree with you, Andrew. Much of the activist tech support I do is for Tibetans inside Occupied Tibet, and as we know Tor in China right now is quite a difficult proposition. Traditional VPNs can and do work, especially when the user simply needs circumvention, and has enough of a risk safety net that they won't be questioned or detained for simply using a vpn.

As the primary developer of Orbot as well, I also deal with mobile latency issues quite a bit as well, and this has led me to think quite a bit about how the real time browse and click model of the web is highly incompatible with the realities of Tor.

I think the solution for users who want both strong anonymity and circumvention via Tor, and are operating in a high latency environment, is to use applications like offline web cacheing tools (from pay per minute, dial up era), RSS readers, Twitter clients, Podcast apps and even Mail clients, which support synchronization and offline content access. These types of apps minimize the latency a user has to experience, while maximizing the amount of content that can then be shared via sneakernet or LANs.

In summary, I think we should try to expand the way people use Tor, as opposed to pushing them towards less safe solutions.

Sent from my Android phone with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.

Andrew <andrew at pdqvpn.com> wrote:

Hash: SHA1

On 12/2/2011 4:19 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> This also works against Tor in many cases, where people might
> understand it is the best option, but will use a less safe VPN or
> single-hop proxy, because they want something 'faster' or need to
> stream a YouTube video in Flash. In that case, they are following
> the wrong instincts, but it is the same mechanic at play

We have to be more pragmatic tor is horrendously slow/unusable in some
of these countries, and as long as you take some steps like not using
single hop for either Proxies or VPNs, then you are addressing the
treat model that they face, not one that we are making up in our
heads. I realize that it is not perfect, and there is a trade off, but
people on the ground are looking at it and making that choice for

I've spent a lot of time working on issues with Syria lately, the
universal report is that tor is terrible slow, they can't use tails
because it takes too long to download/ is blocked, and their data
might leak if if they use Tor, so using a VPN with some precautions
taken is much more appetizing.

- -Andrew
Version: GnuPG v2.0.17 (MingW32)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla - http://enigmail.mozdev.org/


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