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[liberationtech] Please help us promote Tor and online anonymity

Tom Zhang xzhang at
Thu May 26 14:05:41 PDT 2011

Thanks a lot Roger! This is very good information. Very very helpful for me
and other Chinese users (and people from other countries as well).


On Thu, May 26, 2011 at 1:28 PM, Roger Dingledine <arma at> wrote:

> On Thu, May 26, 2011 at 12:02:48PM -0700, Tom Zhang wrote:
> > This is a great initiative of EFF. I'll certainly participate, and
> promote
> > it as best as I can. I do have one question/comment, we know Tor is
> banned
> > in China and Tor bridges are partially banned as well (see
> >, how
> > effectively would this Tor expansion initiative fare in China if China is
> to
> > more aggressively block Tor? I hope you can give us an analysis on this,
> if
> > the conclusion is optimistic, then it'll help the promotion of this
> > initiative hugely (otherwise my friend would say "why bother").
> Hi Tom,
> Let me try several answers on you. Let me know which one(s) you like.
> First, China isn't the whole picture. Many thousands of people in Saudi
> Arabia use Tor bridges right now, even though for blocking-resistance
> they don't need to (Tor works just fine out of the box in SA). Tor
> bridges actually serve two roles: a) they let you reach the Tor network
> even if the public Tor relays are blocked, and b) they make it harder for
> somebody watching you to realize that you're using Tor, because you aren't
> connecting to an IP address that's easy to associate with Tor. People
> in a variety of countries are using Tor for reason 'b', because they
> are concerned about their safety. More bridges will help them.
> Second, some bridge distribution strategies are currently broken in
> China, but others are working quite well. In part the reason why some
> are broken is because we don't have enough bridge addresses, and there
> isn't enough churn:
> I bet if we had a thousand new bridge addresses daily, the gmail based
> distribution strategy would work a lot better.
> We're experimenting behind the scenes with other distribution strategies.
> In particular, one of the recent approaches that I'm optimistic about is
> distribution via social connections. We're doing some of that on our side
> (using a subset of the bridges and people we know), but you can also do it
> yourself by unchecking the "Automatically distribute my bridge address"
> checkbox in Vidalia and then telling your bridge address line to your
> friends in China.
> Third, increasing the overall capacity of the Tor network (by running
> exit relays or non-exit relays) makes the Tor experience better for
> the hundreds of thousands of users (some of whom are in China) who can
> reach the Tor network. Over the past year we've tripled the capacity of
> the Tor network:
> and we've seen a corresponding improvement in consistency of latency for
> Tor traffic. Capacity and latency aren't exactly tied together, because
> we're working on protocol improvements to handle congestion better (good)
> and because new Tor users show up as it gets better and add load to the
> network (bad). From what I can tell the set of people who want to use
> Tor is basically unlimited; our job is to figure out how to handle more
> of them.
> --Roger

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