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[liberationtech] dumb question

Greg Broiles gbroiles at
Wed Sep 15 00:01:28 PDT 2010

> Serious question, stupid though it may sound.
> What was Haystack attempting to accomplish that Tor has not accomplished,
> with years of very hard work from a comparatively large pool of developers
> and supporters? Am I missing something? Why did 2 guys think they could beat
> that, and more to the point, why did they feel they needed to?

>From <> on Sep 14, 2010 :

"Why not just use Tor?
Haystack and Tor do fundamentally different things, and actually
complement each other.

Tor focuses on using onion routing to ensure that a user's
communications cannot be traced back to him or her, and only focuses
on evading filters as a secondary goal. Because Tor uses standard SSL
protocols, it is relatively easily to detect and block, especially
during periods when the authorities are willing to intercept all
encrypted traffic.

On the other hand, Haystack focuses on being unblockable and innocuous
while simultaneously protecting the privacy of our users. We do not
employ onion routing, though our proxy system does provide a limited
form of the same benefit.

To a computer, a user using Haystack appears to be engaging in normal,
unencrypted web browsing, which raises far fewer suspicions than many
encrypted connections. Authorities can block Haystack only by
completely disabling access to the internet, which gives Haystack
greater availability in crises, during which the authorities may be
perfectly willing to block all obviously-encrypted traffic.

Also, unlike Tor, Haystack has no public list of servers, which makes
it exceptionally difficult for the authorities to discover which
machines to block. The Haystack client is also less than a quarter of
the size of even the smallest Tor client, which leads to greater
availability when it is impossible to download large programs.

It is possible to configure Tor to transmit through Haystack, and
users who require the additional guarantees that Tor provides are
welcome to combine the systems."

Greg Broiles
gbroiles at

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