The Tor Project has yet again reaffirmed their commitment towards safeguarding online privacy, this time with the launch of a new mobile app called OONIProbe.
With the Android and iOS versions of the application already available for download, Tor is looking to grant smartphone users the power to identify, monitor, and report any type of internet censorship from any part of the world.
The application is based on a free software project known as the Open Observatory of Network Interference, which serves the sole purpose of keeping users in the loop regarding online censorship and surveillance, whether government-mandated or otherwise.
The Tor Project’s OONIProbe app will also pack features such as network speed detection under its hood, granting the smartphone user total insight as to their internet usage.
Officially launched on February 9th, the OONIProbe app, much like the Tor browser, promises to redefine internet freedom for smartphone users all over the world.
How the Tor Project’s Latest Release Works
Within the database of OONI is a list of the countries that practice internet censorship in varying degrees of severity.
Topping the list include Greece, Turkey, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Using this database, OONI is capable of detecting the various methods of internet censorship deployed in different parts of the world, but that’s not all.
In addition to alerting you about internet censorship, the app is also capable of suggesting the most viable ways to circumvent the censorship measures that have been put in place.
Currently, the software only covers browser-accessed websites, although the developers are optimistic that the upcoming updates will allow users to detect Facebook and WhatsApp censorship.
The Tor Project is determined to turn OONI into a useful resource for conducting independent research concerning internet censorship on a global scale.
The app will collect the results from the censorships from all over the world and use them to build a highly accurate database.
Not unlike Tor, OONIProbe is expected to create a lot of friction with governments that deploy stringent internet censorship measures.
OONIProbe to Suggest Tor Browser and Orbot as Alternatives
Some of the suggestions users can expect to see when the Tor Project’s latest app encounters a censored website include the tried and tested Tor browser, and another one of the Tor Project’s privacy applications, Orbot.
The developers at the Tor Project also prioritized the detection of the more commonly used internet censorship techniques, one of which is known as the “HTTP invalid request line.”
Here, network components known as “middleboxes” are used to bottleneck or block internet traffic altogether.
Moses Karanja, a researcher from Strathmore University, Kenya, is optimistic that OONIProbe could be the next big thing after the very successful Signal.
He is confident that, much like Signal gave us end-to-end encryption, OONIProbe will be the last piece of the puzzle required to give smartphone users full control over their internet.
Government Censorship Still Present
Government censorship and surveillance is almost attaining a mainstream status in this privacy-starved era where highly resourceful government agencies control their citizen’s internet freedom with reckless abandon.
In the wake of two major web outages, one which spurred the hashtag #BringBackOurInternet from the English-speaking parts of Cameroon just last month, it is more important than ever to empower the citizens by giving them the right tools to combat this censorship—something that the Tor Project is constantly working to achieve.
Despite the gradual migration to the more secure end-to-end encryption as seen on more than a few popular platforms, some governments have retained an unfair upper hand over their citizens.
The Tor Project has given sufficient warnings about the risks involved when using the app.
Some of the listed potential risks include imprisonment, threats, extra-judicial repercussions, hefty fines, and even physical assault.
The Tor Project is hopeful that the OONIProbe app is the kind of instigation needed to set the hypothetical ball rolling.
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