[tor-project] OONI Monthly Report: December 2021


OONI’s December 2021 status report is shared below.

# OONI Monthly Report: December 2021

Throughout December 2021, the OONI team worked on the following sprints:

  • Sprint 53 (1st-5th December 2021)
  • Sprint 54 (6th-19th December 2021)

Our work can be tracked through the various OONI GitHub repositories: https://github.com/ooni

Highlights are shared in this report below.

## Published report on Tor blocking in Russia

We published a report documenting the blocking of Tor in Russia based on OONI data.

Read the report here: https://ooni.org/post/2021-russia-blocks-tor/

Our report shares OONI data and analysis on the blocking of the Tor network and Tor Project website on some AS networks in Russia.

Wired also published a story on Tor blocking in Russia, sharing OONI data and findings: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/russia-block-tor-censorship

## Year in Review: OONI in 2021

In December 2021, we published our annual end-of-year post, “Year in Review: OONI in 2021”, which shares:

  • OONI highlights from 2021

  • Exciting OONI activities by community members in 2021

  • Upcoming OONI projects in 2022

You can read this post here: https://ooni.org/post/ooni-in-2021/

Warm thanks to our amazing community for making our work possible!

We thank every OONI Probe user out there, and we’re excited for 2022!

## Published blog post about OONI Probe integration into iThena

iThena (https://root.ithena.net/) is a distributed computation and measurement project based on the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) platform.

In December 2021, we published a blog post where we discussed how iThena helped boost OONI censorship measurement coverage worldwide by integrating OONI Probe into their platform.

This blog post is available here: https://ooni.org/post/2021-ithena-boosts-ooni-measurement-coverage/

## Published guest post by The Bachchao Project

In October 2021, we participated in the Bachchao Project’s 2-day event (“India, Let’s Build the List”) where we helped facilitate sessions for communities in India to update the Citizen Lab’s test list for India.

In December 2021, we published the Bachchao Project’s guest blog post about the event on the OONI website: https://ooni.org/post/2021-event-india-test-list/

## OONI Probe Mobile

We released OONI Probe Mobile 3.5.0 for Android (https://github.com/ooni/probe-android/releases/tag/v3.5.0) and iOS (https://github.com/ooni/probe-ios/releases/tag/v3.5.0).

This release includes the following improvements:

  • Automated testing for instant messaging app tests (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Telegram)
  • Automated testing for circumvention tool tests (Tor, Psiphon, RiseupVPN)
  • Automated testing requires at least 20% of battery level
  • OONI Probe CLI updated to 3.13.0
  • Bug fixes

Following this release, OONI Probe mobile app users can run all OONI Probe tests (excluding the bandwidth-intensive performance tests) automatically on a regular basis. We expect that this will not only help boost OONI measurement coverage further, but it will also be helpful in ensuring that social media apps and circumvention tools (both of which are frequently blocked around the world) are more regularly tested.

We started making improvements to how we do testing of the OONI Probe apps by doing integration testing of all components inside of a mono-repo (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1926). We also worked towards addressing OONI Probe technical debt (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1808).

## OONI Probe Web

We now have a working prototype of OONI Probe Web (https://github.com/ooni/probe-web) that implements the full functionality.

Features of OONI Probe Web currently include:

Unlike the OONI Probe apps, OONI Probe Web is limited to website testing. The prototype includes a feature that enables users to determine if they would like to limit their testing to a specific number of URLs.

## Integrating tor into OONI Probe

We completed the integration of tor into OONI Probe Mobile and OONI Probe Desktop (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1867). It is now possible to use go-libtor when it’s available. We switch between using go-libtor or searching for the tor binary in the path by using build constraints. The branch that integrates this work is the following: https://github.com/ooni/probe-cli/pull/614

We also integrated tor into OONI Probe Desktop (https://github.com/ooni/probe-desktop/pull/261) and into OONI Probe CLI (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1872, https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/1866).

## Expanding censorship measurement methodologies

We released OONI Probe CLI 3.13 (https://github.com/ooni/probe-cli/releases/tag/v3.13.0) through which users can now run our new DNScheck experiment (https://github.com/ooni/spec/blob/master/nettests/ts-028-dnscheck.md). This release (along with our 3.13-beta and 3.14-alpha releases made in December 2021) includes a series of other improvements to our experiments and measurement methodologies (https://github.com/ooni/probe-cli/releases), as well as updated dependencies.

## OONI Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT)

We continued to make improvements to the OONI Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT).

In particular, we improved the usability of the one-dimensional charts, we fixed a tooltip rendering issue, we resized the panels for the charts and table, we fixed issues with non-measurement-start-day based charts, we fixed the sorting order of the table, and we worked on other UI improvements (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/issues/624). We also added support for displaying the various blocking types (DNS, TCP/IP, HTTP-failure, HTTP-diff) as an axis value in the MAT charts. Improvements to the MAT can be viewed through commits made in the following pull request: https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/622

## OONI backend

In December 2021, we continued to make progress on migrating our backend infrastructure to Clickhouse (https://github.com/ooni/pipeline/pull/371).

To this end, we worked on:

  • Switching more tables over to Clickhouse and improving test coverage;
  • Implementing Clickhouse in our fastpath data processing pipeline;
  • Implementing the Clickhouse feeder;
  • Updating JSONL table in Clickhouse from feeder;
  • Updating CI to test Clickhouse;
  • Splitting the platform in tiers;
  • Adding a deletion flag on the uploader;
  • Re-importing the JSONL table and rebuilding the fastpath table with the domain column.

We also worked on the following backend activities:

  • Implemented an integrated API/fastpath multi-host dashboard;
  • Added backend support for Tor Snowflake experiment feature extraction (https://github.com/ooni/pipeline/pull/372);
  • Added backend support for extracting Tor Snowflake runtime metrics and exposing them via a new API endpoint (https://github.com/ooni/api/pull/274);
  • Handled upcoming VM reboots;
  • Continued to monitor OONI measurement coverage from unattended runs on OONI Probe Mobile and Desktop.

## Established new partnership with Zaina Foundation

In December 2021, we established a new partnership with Tanzania’s Zaina Foundation (https://zainafoundationtz.org/).

Over the past year, we had already been collaborating with Zaina Foundation, who facilitated OONI training for women human rights defenders in Tanzania, conducted usability studies for OONI Probe and OONI Explorer, and translated OONI Probe to Swahili. We are therefore thrilled to have now formalized our partnership with Zaina Foundation, and we’re excited for our ongoing collaboration over the next few years.

To highlight Zaina Foundation’s important work, we published a new page on the OONI Partners page: https://ooni.org/partners/zaina-foundation/

## OONI website

### New Donate page

In December 2021, we published a new Donate page on the OONI website: https://ooni.org/donate/

Through this page, we aim to encourage donations in support of OONI’s work.

### Edited various OONI webpages

We edited and updated the copy of several web pages on the OONI site. In particular, we edited the About page (https://github.com/ooni/ooni.org/pull/1041), we updated the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section (https://github.com/ooni/ooni.org/pull/1042), and we restructured and edited the Nettests section (https://github.com/ooni/ooni.org/pull/1043). We also

## Hosting an OTF Information Controls Fellow

As of December 2021, we started to serve as the host organization for Open Technology Fund (OTF) Information Controls research fellow, Gurshabad Grover (https://twitter.com/OpenObservatory/status/1471454369866719237).

During his 1-year research fellowship with us, Gurshabad aims to uncover how ISPs, through their technical decisions, can exacerbate or minimize the effects of state-ordered censorship.

## Community activities

### PiProbe

Our Venezuelan partners, Venezuela Inteligente, created a new OONI Probe distribution for Raspberry Pis, called “PiProbe” (https://github.com/VEinteligente/PiProbe). On 15th December 2021, they presented PiProbe to collect feedback from the OONI team and broader community.

## Userbase

In December 2021, 39,609,318 OONI Probe measurements were collected from 2,785 AS networks in 165 countries around the world.

This information can also be found through our measurement stats on OONI Explorer (see chart on “monthly coverage worldwide”): https://explorer.ooni.org/

~ OONI team.

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