November 24 2022 GM

From TCU Wiki
Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EDT / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.

Date: Thursday, November 24th

Time: 9am EST / 2pm UTC

Who: Raya Sharbain

Moderator: Islam

Where: On IFF Mattermost Square Channel.

The Tor Project and how it can support our communities

We welcome Raya this week to talk to us about her new role as Education and communities coordinator with the Tor Project and her vision for how Tor can support our communities.

Bio: Raya is dedicating a lot of screen time for The Tor Project these days, member of the Jordan Open Source Association.


Tell us a bit about you, what you did before joining Tor, and what you now do in your new role at Tor.

  • I used to work with the Jordan Open Source Association - a local civil society org promoting open source and digital rights in Jordan - and have been with Tor since February of this year!
  • At Tor I'm the Educations and Communities Coordinator which is a long title to say that I run training for journalists, human rights defenders on how to use Tor to protect against network censorship and traffic surveillance, and also enjoy just building training material and educational resources around Tor.
  • The "communities" part of my role means that I coordinate community meetups (we've got 2 coming up in December! something to look forward to) and other community events.
  • Some community meetups coming up (please let me know if you're interested in attending):
    • Tor meetup in Latin America
    • Tor meetup in East Africa

How do you understand Tor's contribution to the world of digital justice, and why (or even how) we can promote it more in our spaces and movements?

  • Tor is a technology that allows you to browse the Internet anonymously, this means that you be you online, be comfortable while you're doing your own things online, without worrying about who's looking at the things you're doing and whether they're going to block your access to the things you're trying to reach
  • Earlier this year a Tunisian friend told me that they were using Tor during the Tunisian revolution in order to blog anonymously and safely. They noticed - once things quieted down - that bloggers that were arrested were the ones that weren't using Tor while doing their work... so using Tor helped them evade arrest.
  • A Syrian friend also recently shared that they used Tor during the revolution to securely upload and share videos of the demonstrations with media outlets.
  • Here's a good blog post to read which contains a lot of interesting stories from people who use Tor.

Why are you passionate about Tor and what drew you to working with them?

  • For me it's personal. I deeply care about encryption and encrypted technologies. My family relies on it daily to communicate with each other securely (we even stopped doing regular phone calls and only do calls via encrypted apps like Signal).
  • But also, during my work with the Jordan Open Source Association, we were documenting a lot of cases of people being arrested based on digital evidence... so it matters to me that there's a technology out there that can protect against a lot of threats online (not all of course!)
  • I was very drawn to the role but I also didn't know whether it would be possible to work with them since I'm Arab and live in this region (I had previously applied to orgs that were based in the US but there were restrictions on timezones and nationalities)... fortunately there were no restrictions on nationalities or timezones which was excellent... and gave me hope.

Given the different examples we've just mentioned of how Tor is used, how do you recommend using it?for what purposes should we push for it to be used?

  • So many reasons so I'll share a few. In all cases Tor will protect against traffic surveillance and will support with bypassing censorship, but there's a group of apps that use Tor and that you can download for these purposes:
    • For anonymous web browsing, download: Tor Browser
    • For bypassing censorship on your phone, download: [1]
    • For sharing files securely (instead of Dropbox or WeTransfer), download: OnionShare
    • For whistleblowing, you can also use an operating system (like Windows/Mac/Linux) that runs straight out of a USB called Tails
    • If you want to start receiving leaks securely, you can use GlobaLeaks or SecureDrop
  • All of these softwares use Tor in one way or another

What is your vision for your role? What kind of activities, alongside the meetups (but maybe tell us a bit about those too), are you planning?

  • I'm trying to keep things simple for now, creating and writing more guides and resources to explain Tor and Tor tools to folks.
  • Recently we rewrote our explainer on Snowflake which was very useful for folks who were downloading the extension and helping people bypass censorship in September and October.
  • I'm also trying to reach more places with our trainings and meetups, get a better sense of how Tor can be used and be useful in different contexts
  • For the meetups, we get together with individuals and organizations to talk about running Tor and digital security training, running Tor relays, deploying Onion Services, and get updates from community members as well.

How can this community support you?

  • Here are some fun ways folks can support Tor:
    • Share any feedback you may have about Tor and Tor tools, we have an active forum and you can start a discussion at any time.
    • Download the Snowflake browser extension (works for Chrome and Firefox) and help folks bypass censorship by letting them connect through you.
    • If you feel like you want to dig into something a bit more technical, try running a Tor relay (relays form the backbone of the Tor network - Tor would be impossible without relays!).
    • If you're keen on seeing Tor in your own language, also let us know! We're trying with what we can to localize our resources, documentation, software, etc.