Tor Weekly News — October 8th, 2014

Welcome to the fortieth issue in 2014 of Tor Weekly News, the weekly newsletter that covers what is happening in the Tor community.

Setup ooniprobe in five minutes

New versions of the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) tools are out. On October 1st, Arturo Filastò announced ooniprobe 1.2.0 and oonibackend 1.1.4.

“One of the most interesting new features that are now part of ooniprobe is the ability to generate test decks for the country you are in a way that is much easier than before”, wrote Arturo.

He added: “As a matter of fact to start contributing useful measurements it’s just a matter of 5 minutes of setup.” So don’t be shy about adding your measurements to the project!

Monthly status reports for September 2014

The wave of regular monthly reports from Tor project members for the month of September has begun. Juha Nurmi released his report first, followed by reports from Georg Koppen, Damian Johnson, George Kadianakis, Matt Pagan, Lunar, Sherief Alaa, Leiah Jansen, Harmony, Pearl Crescent, Nick Mathewson, Karsten Loesing, Sukhbir Singh, Nicolas Vigier (in addition to July and August), Arlo Breault, J. Todaro, and Colin C.

Lunar also reported on Tor help desk, Mike Perry for the Tor Browser team, and Arturo Filastò for OONI.

Miscellaneous news

Orbot users should rejoice at the news that orWall 1.0.0 has been released! orWall will force selected applications through Tor while preventing unauthorized applications to have any network access. “Any feedback from Tor/Orbot users interests me in order to improve orWall. I think the current release is pretty good, but as the main dev I’m maybe not that neutral regarding this statement” joked CJ.

The OONI project has been “developing a test that allows probes in censored countries to test which bridges are blocked and which are not”. George Kadianakis is seeking help to create interesting visualization of the resulting data. He shared a sketch about countries and pluggable transports and another one showing time before blocks happened.

Nick Mathewson announced the release of Trunnel 1.3. Trunnel is a code generator for binary encoders/decoders. Nick adds: “Some code that it has generated has been merged into the Tor master branch for the 0.2.6 release series, though that code is not yet in active use.“

David Fifield sent a summary of the costs incurred by the meek pluggable transport for the month of September 2014. More details are included in the email, but costs are currently very low: “$3.85 for App Engine, $4.59 for Amazon, $0.00 for Azure”.

Virgil Griffith shared a yet unpublished tech report on Tor growth. To pick just one finding, the Tor network’s bandwidth has been doubling every 13–14 months so far.

The Knight Foundation is going to fund projects for “the future of libraries”. The Library Freedom Project wants to teach “librarians about privacy rights, law, and tech tools to protect patrons from dragnet surveillance”. It’s based on their previous experience promoting Tor and other privacy tools in Massachusetts libraries. Show them support!

The US National Science Foundation is seeking input to lay out a future Privacy Research Strategy. The deadline being October 17th, Roger Dingledine suggests: “if anybody here has partially written ideas that they want to put together into a submission, please do!”

Thanks to opi for running a new mirror of the Tor Project’s website and software.

Easy development tasks to get involved with

oonibackend is used by ooni, the Open Observatory of Network Interference, to run in the background and perform tasks like discovering addresses of test helpers and performing measurements that require a backend system to talk to. When oonibackend was changed to fix compatibility with Twisted 13.1 it lost its ability to start tor and then drop privileges. Arturo suspects that the correct way of doing this is to place the logic for starting tor inside of preApplication or startService. But from a quick research he suspects that Twisted does not support returning Deferreds in there. He also points to two relevant Twisted tickets (1, 2). If you have experience with Twisted and want to help debug or even solve this problem, be sure to post your thoughts or patches to the ticket.


This issue of Tor Weekly News has been assembled by Lunar, harmony, and Karsten Loesing.

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