As we prepare to distribute flyers & posters in our city this weekend, to promote the forthcoming Tor Project Sysadmin 101 for prospective & new Tor relay operators, we decided to make some additional posters/flyers to promote the Snowflake browser add-on.
As we reviewed the Tor project Snowflake browser add-on documentation, including the instructions for installing the add-on, it occurred to us that the documentation doesn’t advise users to ensure the add-on isn’t used with a browser that is connecting through a VPN.
Therefore, we’ve amended our flyers to instruct potential Snowflake add-on VPN users to use a secondary browser with the Snowflake add-on. For example, if someone’s primary browser is Chrome, use Firefox with the Snowflake add-on & whitelist/allow Firefox via the VPN settings.
Whilst many early adopters of the Snowflake add-on might very well have the technical insight to avoid using the Snowflake add-on with a browser passing through a VPN, many others might routinely be using a system-wide VPN & might possibly not consider using an alternative browser whitelisted/allowed by the VPN, to connect directly to the Internet, to ensure the user isn’t providing a VPN IP address which would most likely be blocked by the adversary.
Therefore, I propose an amendment to the Snowflake web browser documentation, for example, here:
with something along the lines of,
“If you use a VPN on your laptop/desktop please whitelist/allow the browser you use with the Tor Snowflake add-on, to ensure your VPN IP address is not used with the add-on. VPN IP addresses will be blocked by the network adversary & your Snowflake add-on will not get used to help those that need it. For example, if you typically use Chrome as your main browser through a VPN, then use the Snowflake add-on with Firefox & whitelist/allow Firefox via your VPN settings, thanks.”
This information could also be added to the Snowflake browser add-on text on each respective Chrome & Firefox add-on webpage.
As obvious as this might seem, we probably shouldn’t assume everyday Snowflake browser add-on users will have this technical insight for themselves, thus potentially resulting in the Tor project & its censored users missing out on an even greater number of Snowflake connections, moving forward.