The creators of Tor have launched an app to find out if our Internet is being censored.
The fight against Internet censorship continues, how could it be otherwise? but it is impossible to fight something if we do not know what it is. For example, would you say that your internet connection is censored? That there are web pages that you cannot access because someone has arbitrarily decided? The truth may surprise you.
Internet censorship, a problem that extends to more countries than you might think
We normally associate Internet censorship with totalitarian governments; countries like China, North Korea and others come to mind. But the truth is that today most of the countries around the world censor the Internet, in one way or another; as you may have guessed, it all depends on what we consider censorship. Is shutting down extremist websites that advocate for terrorism, censorship? It depends on who you ask, you will have a different answer.
But it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you think there are pages that should be closed by law (such as those that allow you to download pirated content, for example); the important is that there is full transparency and let the public know exactly what is being censored and why. Only then can citizens make decisions democratically, with as much information as possible. And that’s why tools like ooniprobe are so important.
Ooniprobe has been developed as part of the OONI (Open Observatory of Network Interference) project, which is responsible for recording censorship cases throughout the Web; behind is The Tor Project, the initiative to create an alternative Internet, only accessible with a compatible browser like Tor Browser. Therefore, they know a lot about censorship and what happens when a government tries to block access to a web page.
The app to know if our Internet is censored
With ooniprobe we will not only be able to find out if our Internet is being censored; It also detects the presence of systems designed to censor or spy on our connection. Although the truth is that the first time we started the app, this is not evident.
In fact, the first thing we see when we open ooniprobe is a text wall; Its developers want to make it very clear what this app is for, but also that when using it they will be able to collect data that we could consider personal. By default, the app sends data about our connection and device, although we can disable it before starting to use it. Although before we will have to answer a questionnaire to demonstrate that we have understood everything.
The first option is called Web Connectivity, and it will allow us check if our connection is censored; that is, if there are web pages that we cannot access from our country. The operation could not be easier, we just have to click on Run; In the resulting report we will find the list of pages that the app could not access.
This is an important clarification; ooniprobe only tries to connect to a predefined list of pages, which are normally blocked. Therefore, there may be pages that are not listed; and there may be false positives, like when the server is momentarily down.
The second tool, HTTP Invaled request line, the app will detect if there are boxes in the middle, devices that record our connection; This is more rare than in most countries, and should only be of concern if we believe that they are touching our connection.
Finally, the app includes a speed test; It’s nothing special, but it can come in handy if we think we’re slowing down due to blockages.
Ooniprobe is an app that can serve both to remove a worry from us and to seriously consider what the Internet situation is in our country.
Download ooniprobe for Android
Download ooniprobe for iOS