Study: What is the value of anonymous communication?

Drexel University researchers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are recruiting Tor users for an interview study to see how they use Tor while creating things online—how they write blog posts, edit Wikipedia articles, contribute to open source projects on GitHub, post on discussion forums, comment on news articles, Tweet, write reviews, and many other things.

The researchers want to investigate the ways in which various limits, like CAPTCHAs, or even blocking access to sites entirely, inhibit or don’t inhibit Tor users’ ability to create things online. They hope to identify times when people are forced to modify their behavior to achieve the privacy they want. They want to measure the value of anonymous participation and then begin to talk to service providers and others to optimize the participation of Tor users.

“By understanding the contributions that Tor users make, we can help make a case for the value of anonymity online,” said Associate Professor Rachel Greenstadt, an investigator on the study.

The researchers are also interested in hearing from Tor users about other impediments to their anonymous participation that they have encountered while online.

“It’s critical for online projects to support contributions from anyone eager to participate,” said Assistant Professor Andrea Forte, principal investigator.

For more information about joining the study, see: The Tor Study (http://andreaforte.net/tor.html)

Anonymous

June 16, 2015

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Mostly, I just browse the kinds of ordinary things that I suspect most people do. I'm not a terrorist (nor even a whistleblower!) But I find it sickening, unconstitutional and just plain wrong that our own government is indefinitely storing and analyzing even these ordinary bits of data about us- using algorithms and AI to create profiles on us in case of "some event" "some day".

And so I use Tor most everywhere. I know I'm also signalling myself out because of this- I might be even more carefully and analyzed and targeted simply BECAUSE I use Tor. But ultimately, it's not about hiding- it's about making a point and living by my convictions for me. If that gets me the privacy I have a right to- Great! If that robs me of even more privacy- well, at least it's not by my consent.

I do become frustrated with all the CAPTCHAs and sometimes plain site rejections I get. I mean, I even get them when I'm LOGGED IN at a site some times. Couldn't they whitelist logged-in users? How do I modify my behavior? 90% of the time I just find an alternate site of just do without it. Rarely, I will temporarily forgo my privacy for the sake of some particular resource for good reason.

Like another user posted, I don't normally do Facebook or Google either.

As for this research- I think the questions are not that interesting, so the answers won't be either. What will be interesting is how it will be presented: Positively, negatively or neutrally. It could take on a human interest quality as well. In other words, I think how it is presented will have the greatest impact. Most of us using Tor I bet are just privacy-conscious people.

Some of us are paranoid, some of us too sane for our own good, and most of us at least well educated in computer use. Like all these things, it is a certain more educated and interested group which starts to use it (such as the case of personal computers themselves), and it takes a certain time to spread out and become more mainstream. But I think it will. I don't believe most people are really okay with government watching their every move online (and off) and people are becoming more computer/Internet-savvy every day.

Anonymous

September 15, 2015

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I have been using a tor/privoxy isolating proxy* for a while and would like to make a couple of observations public:

First, youtube videos and flashplayer seem to work just fine.

Lately, captchas seem to work just fine.

In general, comments do not work which probably means that if you make a comment through tor browser - it is not going through tor and your privacy is being violated.

It seems that comments cannot be made anonymously anymore.

*I have tor and privoxy on one machine with two NICs, one NIC is connected to the internet and the other is connected to firefox on another machine. Nothing should be able to get on the internet without going through privoxy and tor.

Anonymous

October 17, 2015

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I do become frustrated with all the CAPTCHAs and sometimes plain site rejections I get. I mean, I even get them when I'm LOGGED IN at a site some times. Couldn't they whitelist logged-in users? How do I modify my behavior? 90% of the time I just find an alternate site of just do without it. Rarely, I will temporarily forgo my privacy for the sake of some particular resource for good reason.

Like another user posted, I don't normally do Facebook or Google either.

As for this research- I think the questions are not that interesting, so the answers won't be either. What will be interesting is how it will be presented: Positively, negatively or neutrally. It could take on a human interest quality as well. In other words, I think how it is presented will have the greatest impact. Most of us using Tor I bet are just privacy-conscious people.
happy veterans day 2015
Some of us are paranoid, some of us too sane for our own good, and most of us at least well educated in computer use. Like all these things, it is a certain more educated and interested group which starts to use it (such as the case of personal computers themselves), and it takes a certain time to spread out and become more mainstream. But I think it will. I don't believe most people are really okay with government watching their every move online (and off) and people are becoming more computer/Internet-savvy every day.