Tor on Mobile Devices, Pluggable Transports / Snowflake

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Workshop: Tor on Mobile Devices, Pluggable Transports / Snowflake


Workshop outlines:

  • Introduction: Background information about the Guardian Project, who we are, and what we do.
  • Tor overview: What is it? How does it work?
  • Censorship.
  • Guardian Project tools that connect you with Tor
  • Pluggable Transports

Facilitators: Mardiya, Rima


  • David Oliver is a founder of Guardian Project, and serves in program manager and product manager roles
  • Fabiola Maurice is the Community Lead at Guardian Project, her job is to provide assistance to Guardian Project users, keep relationships with our partners strong, and create new ones.

>> Check out notes from other sessions here


TOR on Mobile Devices

  • TOR is designed to make it difficult to track your IP address, however, sophisticated surveillance states and authorities are still able to track you using other means.
  • TOR is used to mitigate censorship and enable privacy
  • TOR bridges help people withstand censorship through community servers, Custom Bridged, and Pluggable Transports which Includes snowflakes.
  • SnowFlakes are pluggable transport that makes it easier for more volunteers to provide bridges for TOR.They are plugins you add to your browser
  • Under circumstances when TOR is blocked TOR provides bridges and pluggables


  • For Android Devices allows users who have TOR blocked to use your device as a snowflake.
  • Onion Browser for IOS, uses TOR as an InBuilt browser. Onion browsers can also use bridges during censorship, and allow you enable your device as a snowflake as well


Ways to make pluggable transports to make them more accessible.

  • Guardian project is finding ways to standardize the techniques and developer tools to be used on the internet, rather than only using Guardian project products

Does TOR make your internet connection slower?

  • TOR is the option for people in censored states, and represents access to information on the internet freely.
  • However, given that techniques for TOR are very complicated it does make the internet slower for video streaming or uninterrupted video calls etc.

Could you please describe the challenges of steering resources towards maintenance of existing features and managing volunteers?

  • They try to steer funding to more user-based needs through community engagement, rather than always relying on volunteers
  • Snowflake allowing more people to volunteer
  • People in open geographies should volunteer more as snowflakes

Misinformation/ Disinformation Against TOR

  • We are just starting to face the issue of mis/dis(Information) issues directed at TOR
  • The guardian project is focused on making sure the internet is open

How can Internet Freedom Communities Support the Guardian Project

  • They are looking to have in-person events, where they bring people together to test the products, and provide feedback
  • They are happy to speak on online events
  • And collaborating with communities to present the tools and assist them in using the tools
  • If there is any scenario where internet freedom communities believe that TOR does not address, they are happy to collaborate and work together to make TOR more accessible within that context

Is TOR illegal and have people been arrested using it?

  • There is more crackdown on using TOR and censorship states have a degree of power to decide what is legal and illegal.
  • Some states are able to identify techniques used to circumvent censorship

How can rights defenders have an added layer of protection

  • There are public and private networks that offer added protection to people who might not be able to use TOR
  • Looking beyond the browsing paradigm also provides added tools such as messaging services that allow communication between people.

How about the ever-growing surveillance capacities of many countries in the global north including the United States, have they threatened the digital anonymity these tools would like to offer users and how?

  • Mis/Disinformation, is often used as the excuse for censorship.

How does TOR Enable Total Anonymity against Surveillance Capitalism or Access to User Metadata

  • There are various techniques that TOR cannot stop, the access to certain metadata leakage
  • TOR by itself is not a perfect solution to maintaining total anonymity.
  • The more anonymity you would like to have the less internet features you have access to.