[tor-project] OONI Monthly Report: June 2022


OONI’s June 2022 status report is shared below.

# OONI Monthly Report: June 2022

Throughout June 2022, the OONI team worked on the following sprints:

  • Sprint 66 (1st - 5th June 2022)
  • Sprint 67 (6th -19th June 2022)
  • Sprint 68 (20th - 30th June 2022)

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

Highlights are shared in this report below.

## OONI’s submission for the OHCHR report on internet shutdowns and human rights

In response to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’s call for submissions in support of the OHCHR report on internet shutdowns and human rights to the 50th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022, the OONI team provided a submission with relevant information on the occurrence of mandated disruptions of access to social media and messaging platforms over the past 5 years based on empirical OONI network measurement data.

Read our submission here: https://ooni.org/documents/2022-ooni-submission-ohchr-report-internet-shutdowns.pdf

We share OONI data on social media blocks during elections and protests over the last 5 years.

## OONI Probe Mobile

We made a private beta release of OONI Probe Android 3.7.0, which we tested extensively and shared with community members for testing.

Notably, the private beta of OONI Probe Android 3.7.0 includes:

  • Support for running the Experimental group card automatically
  • New Vanilla Tor test
  • In-app support for changing languages
  • Support for sharing a link to the OONI Probe app
  • Measurement engine synced with OONI Probe CLI 3.15.2

Based on testing and community feedback, we worked on various bug fixes and improvements to the OONI Probe mobile app in preparation for the public release (3.7.0).

Specifically, we worked on:

## OONI Run

We started drafting a plan for incrementally releasing a new version of OONI Run (https://run.ooni.io/). During the final week of the month, we discussed 3 different design documents for supporting a version of OONI Run that doesn’t require a backend. In parallel, we started drafting a specification for the new version of OONI Run (https://github.com/ooni/spec/pull/249).

## OONI Probe Web

The OONI Probe Web app (https://ooni.github.io/probe-web/) includes a website measurement experiment called “browser_web”. In June 2022, we wrote a test specification for this experiment (https://github.com/ooni/spec/pull/244/files). As part of this, we identified some of the limitations to this testing methodology and we documented some of the precautions that should be taken when analyzing the data.

We also added support for:

## Expanding censorship measurement methodologies

While reflecting on the difficulties of merging Websteps into OONI Probe and, more generally, on the toil of maintaining OONI Probe, we came up with a better plan for organizing new experiments that should significantly reduce the maintenance overhead.

This plan, called step-by-step, has been discussed internally, as well as with our ICFP fellows (Ain Ghazal and Gurshabad Grover) and GSoC student (Mehul Gulati). After several rounds of review, we published a design document (https://github.com/ooni/probe-cli/pull/814), which was accompanied by many proof of concepts.

## Measuring DoT/DoH Blocking Using OONI Probe: A Preliminary Study

Last year, we wrote a research paper (“Measuring DoT/DoH Blocking Using OONI Probe: A Preliminary Study”) which was presented at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS’21) as part of the DNS Privacy Workshop. You can read this paper here: https://www.ndss-symposium.org/wp-content/uploads/dnspriv21-02-paper.pdf

This study involves an investigation of encrypted DNS (DoT & DoH) blocking in Kazakhstan, Iran, and China with a new OONI Probe experiment (DNSCheck). In June 2022, we published a blog post with a summary of findings (and video presentation): https://ooni.org/post/2022-doh-dot-paper-dnsprivacy21/

We also shared a summary of findings through a Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/OpenObservatory/status/1537764247442268161

## A Quick Look at QUIC Censorship

In previous months, OONI had the great pleasure to serve as the host organization for Kathrin Elmenhorst’s Open Technology Fund (OTF) Information Controls Fellowship. As part of her fellowship with us, Kathrin investigated QUIC blocking & QUIC’s potential for censorship resistance. Her findings reveal QUIC censorship in China, India, Russia and Uganda, and she shares approaches for QUIC censorship evasion.

To help share her findings with the community, we cross-posted her blog post (originally published on the OTF website): https://ooni.org/post/2022-quick-look-quic-censorship/

## OONI Explorer

We implemented new network-centric views inside of OONI Explorer (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/750). These views enable users to view OONI measurements from a network perspective.

We also made some small improvements, such as adding the input field on the OONI Explorer Search tool and Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT) pages (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/759), as well as other bug fixing (https://github.com/ooni/explorer/pull/761).

## Building a web platform for updating test lists

We continued to polish our new web platform for updating test lists (https://test-lists.ooni.org/) in preparation for a public launch. Specifically, we removed the nickname field from the login page (https://github.com/ooni/test-lists-ui/pull/41) and we made several other bug fixes (https://github.com/ooni/test-lists-ui/pull/42, https://github.com/ooni/test-lists-ui/pull/43).

## OONI backend

### Migration to the Clickhouse database

We continued to work on the ongoing migration to the new OLAP database. As part of this work, we migrated the test helper rotation script to the new backend host.

We also worked on cleaning up (i.e. removing the legacy code), adding changes (to support the new database), and moving our test list updater to the new database/backend host on Clickhouse (https://github.com/ooni/pipeline/pull/387). We made a configuration change on the OONI API to migrate traffic to the new test helper (https://github.com/ooni/api/pull/294).

### URL prioritization

In response to community feedback (https://github.com/ooni/backend/issues/582), we adjusted the URL prioritization system to prioritize the testing of URLs on an ASN-level (as opposed to a countrywide-level). We tested the new ASN-based URL prioritization system successfully (https://github.com/ooni/api/pull/293). We also added support for filtering the URL prioritization query by week (https://github.com/ooni/api/pull/296).

## Test list updates

To improve the quality of global website testing, we worked on cleaning the Global test list (https://github.com/citizenlab/test-lists/pull/1006). This involved reviewing URLs and associated category codes, updating URLs, removing non-operational/irrelevant URLs, and updating category codes.

We also contributed the following updates to the Citizen Lab test lists:

We also reviewed and merged many test list pull requests opened by community members (https://github.com/citizenlab/test-lists/pulls?q=is%3Apr+is%3Aclosed).

## Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2022

During the summer of 2022, we have the opportunity to host 2 Google Summer of Code (GSoC) students: Germa Vinsmoke and Mehul Gulati. They started working with us in June 2022.

In particular, our GSoC 2022 students will work on the following projects:

## Interviewed Community Coordinator candidates

Following the publication of a job opening for an OONI Community Coordinator (https://ooni.org/post/2022-job-opening-ooni-community-coordinator/), we reviewed all applications carefully, created a shortlist of candidates for the first round of interviews, prepared interview questions, and followed up with all applicants.

In June 2022, we completed the first round of interviews for the OONI Community Coordinator position. Based on these interviews, we created a shortlist for the second (and final) round of interviews (for early July 2022) and coordinated with candidates.

## Improved OONI’s Code of Conduct

Based on some initial community feedback, we edited OONI’s Code of Conduct to improve upon it (https://github.com/ooni/ooni.org/pull/1194). We further discussed and collected community feedback for the improvement of OONI’s Code of Conduct during our June 2022 OONI Community Meeting (https://pad.riseup.net/p/improving-ooni-coc-keep).

## Created OONI video recording for the Internet Without Borders event in Yerevan

Between May 2022 to June 2022, eQualitie, Roskomsvoboda, and other Russian civil society organizations organized and hosted a series of conferences (called “Internet without Borders”) for the Russian diaspora in 5 cities (Tbilisi, Yerevan, Vilnius, Berlin, Warsaw), with the goal of fighting internet censorship. Information about these conferences is available here: https://internetborders.net/

We created a 15-minute video recording, which included a brief presentation of OONI’s tools, methods, and dataset. This video recording was shown to participants at the Internet Without Borders event in Yerevan, Armenia, on 3rd June 2022 (https://internetborders.net/project/yerevan/).

## Notable community use of OONI Probe and OONI data

### Access Now paper on taxonomy of internet shutdowns

Access Now published a paper providing a taxonomy of internet shutdowns (citing OONI data): https://www.accessnow.org/cms/assets/uploads/2022/06/A-taxonomy-of-internet-shutdowns-the-technologies-behind-network-interference.pdf

## Community activities

### OONI training session for civil society groups from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa

On 1st June 2022, OONI’s Maria facilitated an OONI training session for civil society groups from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. This was organized by our partner, Digital Society of Africa (https://ooni.org/partners/digital-society-of-africa/).

### RightsCon 2022

As part of our participation at RightsCon 2022 (https://www.rightscon.org/), we co-facilitated/spoke at the following sessions:

  • Workshop on “Building capacity to document and circumvent internet shutdowns” co-hosted with SFLC.in and Top10VPN (6th June 2022)
  • Community lab on “Monitoring internet censorship in South and Southeast Asia” co-hosted with Sinar Project (7th June 2022)
  • Panel on “Internet splintering due to server-side blocking and embargo sanction”, hosted by Censored Planet (8th June 2022)
  • Social hour on “A light in the dark: learning about internet shutdowns and the #KeepItOn campaign” co-hosted with organizations from the #KeepItOn campaign (9th June 2022)

We also participated in two Private Meetings (where we presented OONI) hosted at RightsCon by community organizations.

### OONI presentation and hackathon at Internet without Borders event in Vilnius

We traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania, where we attended the Internet Without Borders conference (for the Russian diaspora) in person (https://internetborders.net/project/vilnius/).

As part of our participation, we:

  • Presented OONI (10th June 2022);
  • Facilitated a workshop on using OONI’s Measurement Aggregation Toolkit (MAT) for investigating internet censorship in Russia (10th June 2022);
  • Facilitated a day-long OONI hackathon (11th June 2022).

As part of the OONI hackathon, participants primarily worked on analyzing OONI data from Russia and investigated the correlation between the spike of failed and anomalous measurements.

### OONI presentation and hackathon at Internet without Borders event in Berlin

We traveled to Berlin, Germany, where we attended the Internet Without Borders conference (for the Russian diaspora) in person (https://internetborders.net/project/berlin/).

As part of our participation, we:

  • Presented OONI (17th June 2022);
  • Facilitated a day-long OONI hackathon (18th June 2022).

### DW Global Media Forum 2022

OONI’s Arturo traveled to Bonn, Germany, to attend Deutsche Welle’s (DW) Global Media Forum 2022 (https://gmf-event.com/) in person, where he participated as a speaker on a panel discussion on documenting internet shutdowns.

### OONI Community Meeting

On 28th June 2022, we hosted the monthly OONI Community Meeting on our Slack channel (https://slack.ooni.org/), during which we discussed the following topics:

  1. Request for community feedback on improving OONI’s Code of Conduct (https://github.com/ooni/ooni.org/blob/master/CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md#ooni-code-of-conduct, https://github.com/ooni/gatherings/blob/master/partner-gatherings/2017-07-toronto/Code%20of%20Conduct%20-%20OONI%20Partner%20Gathering.pdf)

  2. Enabling researchers to dynamically adjust custom test lists used by community networks of volunteers (needed in countries like Iran and Venezuela)

## Userbase

In June 2022, 38,147,681 OONI Probe measurements were collected from 2,833 AS networks in 170 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.