[ux] Internet Censorship in Thailand: User Practices and Potential Threats

David Fifield david at bamsoftware.com
Sun Jul 9 15:00:40 UTC 2017

This survey of Internet use and censorship circumvention in Thailand has
a few things to say about Tor and how users find access tools in


Section 5.2
	Respondents’ current practices reveal general satisfaction with
	censorship circumvention tools’ ability to access blocked
	content, but also concerning trends about inaccurate or
	misinformed conceptions of the functions various tools offer and
	the actors behind blocked content.

Section 5.2.1
	Respondents reported that they were able to get around blocks
	using not only technical tools but also ad hoc methods (see
	Table 2). About 63 percent (n=144) had attempted to circumvent
	blocks before. Of those, about 90 percent (n=132) said their
	attempts were successful, indicating that existing tools were
	capable of circumventing the government’s current censorship

Section 5.2.2
	While a few survey and interview respondents described learning
	about proxies and VPNs from academic or media advocacy groups,
	most relied on repeated Google web searches. Trust in Google
	played a key part in this practice. Interviewee #6 said:
	“First thing I just go onto Google and search ‘proxy server.’
	Click, click, I get it, and that’s what I go through. I kind of
	trust Google to have the best ones on top, since the SEO will
	push those to the top. So I’ll do the first two that are not

	Experiences of strict repression also motivated respondents to
	adopt stronger resistance tools. Interviewee #9 learned to use
	Tor when Facebook was briefly blocked after the 2014 coup. This
	use of an anonymous service to log into an individually
	identifiable social media account is not necessarily a
	contradiction, as Tor protects one’s browsing habits, location,
	and identity from ISPs and other upstream surveillance. In this
	case, Interviewee #9 perceived Tor as the strongest, most
	complex tool available to overcome an unusual, crisis-indicating
	block of Facebook. After Facebook was unblocked, she stopped
	using Tor due to the time and effort required. 

Section 5.4.2
	Respondents’ common reactionary strategy of searching for a new
	proxy or other tool every time they encountered blocked content
	gave them more opportunities to be compromised by malicious or
	unreliable tools. Interviewees were aware that this was not an
	optimal strategy, but did not perceive any better, immediately
	available alternatives. Several interviewees asked interviewers
	for tool selection advice, with questions about malware,
	suspicious ads, and trustworthy sources beyond Google searches. 

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