[tor-project] OONI Monthly Report: December 2023


Happy New Year! We wish you all the best for 2024. :slight_smile:

This email shares OONI’s monthly report for December 2023.

# OONI Monthly Report: December 2023

Throughout December 2023, the OONI team worked on the following sprints:

  • Sprint 106 (4th - 17th December 2023)
  • Sprint 107 (18th - 31st December 2023)

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

Highlights are shared in this report below.

## Year in Review: OONI in 2023

We published our “Year in Review: OONI in 2023” blog post: https://ooni.org/post/2023-year-in-review/

In our annual end-of-year post, we share:

  • OONI highlights from 2023
  • Highlights from the OONI community (i.e. how OONI tools and data were used by the community)
  • Upcoming OONI projects in 2024

Warm thanks to everyone who supported our work in 2023! We’re excited for 2024.

## Published new reports on the OONI Censorship Findings page

Following the launch of the OONI Censorship Findings page (https://explorer.ooni.org/findings) in November 2023, we published more reports on the platform in December 2023.

Specifically, we published the following new reports:

We also updated our Kenya report (published in November 2023) to communicate the unblocking of Telegram: https://explorer.ooni.org/findings/228466228201

## OONI Probe Mobile

In December 2023, we worked towards addressing a bug impacting RTL on OONI Probe iOS (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/2578), and we worked towards coming up with better ways of sharing apk for testing (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/2643).

## OONI Run

As part of our work on creating the next generation version of OONI Run (“OONI Run v2”), there were several key activities we undertook this month:

  • We developed a test plan in preparation for a round of internal testing we’d like to complete in early 2024;
  • We began testing the link flow;
  • We continued to work on implementing the add link flow (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/2595);
  • We worked on implementing the dashboard link loading and we reviewed the updates (https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/2594);
  • As part of testing and adding polish to the application, we also worked on revising the UX for adding an expiry date to links, as well as improved layout for status messaging.

## OONI Probe CLI

We released OONI Probe 3.20.0. The main improvement consists of changes making sure Web Connectivity v0.5 produces the same top-level keys (e.g., blocking) of v0.4 when running integration tests in our Gvisor-based QA suite. We also added experimental functionality to miniooni to run scripts written in JavaScript, which supports research use cases where it is not practical to follow a develop-build-deploy-test-edit-repeat loop.

See the full changelog for more information: https://github.com/ooni/probe-cli/releases/tag/v3.20.0

We also improved the Web Connectivity Test Helper (oohelperd) to be more robust in case of excessive load (as documented here: https://github.com/ooni/probe/issues/2649). We included this improvement into the 3.20.1 OONI Probe release.

## Expanding OONI’s testing model to support richer testing input

The JavaScript based functionality for miniooni that we included in the OONI Probe 3.20 release is an evolution of experimental code that we implemented for richer testing input. You may remember that in May 2023 we created the richer testing input repository (https://github.com/ooni/2023-05-richer-input) to experiment with several possible richer-input designs. We decided to go with a more minimal richer-input design. But, some of the code we produced as part of this experiment turned out valuable in situations in which we or on-the-field testers require greater flexibility to inform changes in the implementation of existing experiments or in the development of new experiments.

## Creating a methodology for measuring throttling

The Web Connectivity v0.5 improvements included in the OONI Probe 3.20.0 release are such that we can move forward with the A/B testing of v0.4 and v0.5 more widely thanks to the richer-input feature flags now included in the check-in API. We therefore will be able to run this A/B testing, identify additional issues with Web Connectivity v0.5, and make it the default Web Connectivity implementation. In turn, this will allow us to collect better throttling data, given the superior v0.5 capabilities in this regard.

## OONI Explorer

As a result of having added several new menu items to OONI Explorer throughout 2023, the main navigation ended up taking too much space on mobile. To improve the user experience on mobile, we made adjustments to the menu items on OONI Explorer (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/issues/896). We also fixed a bug impacting the display of the countries page in the mobile version of OONI Explorer (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/issues/860).

## New OONI backend documentation

Throughout December 2023, we worked on OONI backend documentation that describes the architecture of the main components of OONI infrastructure. Specifically, we focused on improving the documentation of our backend architecture, data flows, and deployment workflows. We also documented the application metric data flows, our backend systems for monitoring and providing alerts on any infrastructure issues, the dashboards that we use, how we manage logs, as well as information about our pipeline, API, test helpers, URL prioritization system, and other backend information.

Our new OONI backend documentation is available here: https://github.com/ooni/backend-documentation/blob/main/backend_documentation.md

## Published OONI Community Interview with Ihueze Nwobilor (Paradigm Initiative)

In December 2023, we published a new OONI community interview with Ihueze Nwobilor, the Senior Programs Officer at Paradigm Initiative (https://paradigmhq.org/). Notably, Ihueze’s advocacy and policy work helped unblock Twitter in Nigeria in 2022!

Ihueze’s interview (which we published on the OONI YouTube channel) can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVHeROiypF4

This interview is part of our “OONI Community Interviews” series, through which we highlight the important work of OONI community members.

We also published a blog post to share the interview and information about Paradigm Initiative’s work: https://ooni.org/post/2023-interview-with-ihueze-nwobilor/

## Published OONI Outreach Kit in Swahili

The OONI Outreach Kit is now available in Swahili (in addition to Russian, Spanish, French, and English)!

Access the Swahili version of the OONI Outreach Kit here: https://ooni.org/sw/support/ooni-outreach-kit/

We thank our partner, Zaina Foundation (https://ooni.org/partners/zaina-foundation/) for the Swahili translation of the OONI Outreach Kit. We also thank Small Media (https://smallmedia.org.uk/) for sharing translations for the speaker notes in the OONI workshop slides (included in the Outreach Kit).

We hope that the Swahili version of the OONI Outreach Kit will help support OONI community engagement efforts!

## Published the OONI FAQ in Burmese

The OONI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documentation is now available in Burmese: https://ooni.org/my/support/faq

We thank the community members who translated this documentation to Burmese. We generally consider it important to have this documentation translated in as many languages as possible (particularly in languages spoken in high-risk countries), as it provides answers to the most frequently asked questions involving the use of OONI tools.

The OONI FAQ documentation (https://ooni.org/support/faq/) is also available in Arabic, Farsi, Khmer, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese.

## Published OONI Probe Mobile User Guide in Burmese

The OONI Probe Mobile User Guide is now available in Burmese: https://ooni.org/my/support/ooni-probe-mobile

We thank the community members who translated this documentation to Burmese.

The OONI Probe Mobile User Guide (https://ooni.org/support/ooni-probe-mobile) is also available in Farsi, Russian, German, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

## Published OONI Probe Desktop User Guide in Portuguese

The OONI Probe Desktop User Guide is now available in Portuguese: https://ooni.org/pt/support/ooni-probe-desktop

We thank Cauan Henrique Zorzenon from the Localization Lab community for the translation.

The OONI Probe Desktop User Guide (https://ooni.org/support/ooni-probe-desktop) is also available in Farsi, Russian, German, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

## End-of-year fundraising efforts

As part of our end-of-year fundraising efforts, we improved upon our Donations page (https://ooni.org/donate) and we published a new “Supporters & Funders” page (https://ooni.org/about/supporters), introducing new supporter tiers and benefits for those interested in supporting OONI’s mission.

On OONI’s 11th Anniversary (5th December 2023), we launched the OONIque Boutique (https://shop.ooni.org), through which the public can get OONI swag (t-shirts, water bottles, mugs, stickers, tote bags) in support of OONI’s work.

## Rapid response efforts

### Pakistan blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

On 17th December 2023, ISPs in Pakistan blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

We rapidly responded by sharing real-time OONI data on the blocks (via our social media platforms) on the same day (https://twitter.com/OpenObservatory/status/1736461861338431903). We also shared relevant OONI data and findings with the KeepItOn advocacy community.

Most OONI measurements suggest that the blocks were implemented by means of TLS interference. OONI data shows that these platforms were unblocked by the next day (18th December 2023): https://explorer.ooni.org/chart/mat?probe_cc=PK&since=2023-11-18&until=2023-12-19&time_grain=day&axis_x=measurement_start_day&axis_y=domain&test_name=web_connectivity&domain=twitter.com%2Cwww.facebook.com%2Cwww.instagram.com%2Cwww.youtube.com

## Resources created by the community

### Open Culture Foundation’s (OCF) OONI Research project

Our partner, Open Culture Foundation (https://ooni.org/partners/open-culture-foundation/), launched a new OONI Research project to support OONI censorship measurement in Taiwan.

You can find information about OCF’s OONI Research project here: https://ocf.tw/en/p/ooni/

OCF’s OONI Research project is also available on GitHub: https://github.com/ocftw/ooni-research

Their OONI Research project covers the following areas:

  • ASN coverage analysis
  • Updating the Citizen Lab test list for Taiwan
  • Localizing OONI tools and documentation

In December 2023, OCF published their first observation report (based on the analysis of OONI data from 1st September 2023 to 3rd December 2023): https://ocf.tw/en/p/ooni/report/202312.html

### Building Digital Resilience Comic Strip

Access Now and Core23Lab published a comic strip for journalists, politicians, and human rights activists ahead of the DRC’s 2023 elections. This comic strip features OONI (among other tools) and is available here: https://www.accessnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Ngao-Comics-V5-English.pdf

## Citations

### Top10VPN December 2023 Newsletter

OONI is cited in Top10VPN’s last newsletter for 2023, which provides a “Year in Review” on internet shutdowns, digital privacy and AI surveillance. Their newsletter is available here: https://top10vpn.substack.com/p/year-in-review-internet-shutdowns

The newsletter includes quotes from OONI’s Maria, as well as links to many of the research reports that we published in 2023. The newsletter also discusses the new OONI Explorer features that we launched in 2023 (including our new Censorship Findings page), as well as our plans for releasing a new version of OONI Run in 2024.

## Community activities

### State of the Onion 2023

On 6th December 2023, OONI’s Arturo presented OONI at the Tor Project’s annual State of the Onion Community event (https://blog.torproject.org/state-of-the-onion-2023/). As part of his presentation, Arturo shared OONI highlights from 2023, as well as upcoming OONI projects for 2024.

The live-stream of the presentation is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtgTwho1wfQ

### SplinterCon

Between 7th-8th December 2023, OONI’s Simone attended the SplinterCon conference (https://splintercon.net/) in Montreal, Canada.

As part of his participation, Simone delivered an OONI presentation and facilitated a workshop on how to use OONI Probe in adversarial networks.

This workshop touched upon the following topics:

  • Basic usage of OONI Probe Desktop, CLI, Mobile, and the miniooni research client;
  • Failures contacting the OONI backend, tunnel options (psiphon, tor, etc.), and the possibility of configuring circumvention using the bridges.conf file;
  • Failures geolocating the probe’s IP address and plans to make this step more robust;
  • Using OONI Run v1 for personal research and to coordinate measurement campaigns;
  • OONI Run v2 with miniooni as a tool to execute any experiment;
  • Overview of what is possible to measure using the urlgetter research experiment;
  • The JavaScript functionality introduced in miniooni 3.20.0.

The general goal of the workshop was to discuss how to overcome common issues in heavily-censored networks and use miniooni (and hence the OONI Engine) as a platform to collect data that is useful for research, as well as to contribute to improving OONI Probe methodologies.

## Measurement coverage

In December 2023, 54,838,460 OONI Probe measurements were collected from 2,975 networks in 180 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.