Tor in Education - discussion

Welcome to the Tor in Education thread, a space for free discussion about tor and education.

What is the purpose of this thread?
This topic has as its goal, to enable a wide debate about the presence of Tor in education, as well as about projects and activities of the school community regarding the development, enhancement, and research involving Tor.

How can i participate?
Simply share your doubts, knowledge, work, ideas, and technologies regarding Tor in education. This is a free educational space!

How important is Tor for education?
Tor has an ethical and social responsibility in the fight against guarded education within educational institutions. More than ever, public and private educational institutions and networks, from primary to higher education, have embraced software belonging to GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft).

According to the Project Surveillance Education, by October 2021, 66% of institutions and networks (considering public higher education institutions, state education networks, and municipal networks with more than 500 thousand inhabitants) in Brazil expose their students, teachers, and managers to the so-called “surveillance capitalism”.

In South America they show the dominance of Google and Microsoft companies over the e-mail management of public higher education institutions. Of the 448 institutions surveyed, 79% use services from these companies as a solution for email management - institutionally or in some unit (colleges or institutes) - with a large advantage for Google, present in 63% of the institutions. Microsoft is present in 16% of the institutions.

It is remarkable that the current technological development in education tends to grow, but misinformation, lack of privacy, and abusive tracking will grow along with it. Students and teachers are not given alternatives in relation to their privacy and anonymity, causing them to be abruptly censored in their institutions and persecuted while surfing the internet.

In this way, access to information is also limited. This causes a decrease in independent research and the development of new technologies that defend privacy and freedom on the Internet.

Therefore, the Tor community must organize and mobilize around the right to privacy and research in educational institutions, aiming at educational freedom and free academic development.

Useful information sources:
Research - Tor Project | Tor Experimentation Tools - IEEE | Security Education - EFF | Give Students #UserFreedom - FSF (Petition) | Derechos Digitales América Latina

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@moderators Could you please fix this topic in the category? Because it is currently a single space for educational discussion, it may be simpler to locate if it is fixed.

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I think Tor in higher-education is healthy as ever, and one of the least points of concern. In fact, public universities have been the only entities I have personally been able to find willing to operate exit nodes. They often have the backbone connection to support significant bandwidth throughput, tech professors who appreciate and understand the importance of the Tor Project, and the ones I have worked with tend to have law schools happy to volunteer law students to deal with the negative externalities of exit nodes on the basis of civil rights, making public Universities pretty much best-in-class in supporting the tor network. Although they have the bandwidth to support exit nodes, Businesses and ISPs on the other hand, could largely care-less once they learn about the potential boilerplate paperwork involved with dealing with abusive users.
That said, there are some specific things that are largely unavoidable in education that are counter to a user’s complete privacy. However, these things are necessary to education.

  • Verification of Authorship and Testing Identity: Identity is crucial in education, professors and teachers must be able to verify that you, and nobody else, produced your academic work product. True anonymity in within-school communications is at odds with this requirement and Tor is not a viable option simply because the goal of higher-education is for the government to assign you a verifiable certificate that you have completed the required course-work to qualify for the specific credential. Awarding a degree to psyfry would have little benefit to me compared to listing my true name, since anyone could claim their handle is psyfry, regardless of their actual credentials.

  • General email run by GAFAM corporations: This area is a bit more grey compared to my previous point. In my experience, we were transitioned from a self-hosted email solution to gmail similar to what you describe in Brazil. However, a key point in the discussions when our university switched was that the service contract was substantially different than regular “Google Business” accounts. All communications between users within the universities domain were specifically protected under federal law called “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act(FERPA)” in the US, meaning Google was required by law not to use student or professor emails for any other purpose than providing communications for universities. It appears that Brazil also has a recent law as of 2020 on the books(Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD, English translation)) that from my reading could even be stronger than what we have in the US in protecting educational communications and additionally general communications that is closer in scope to the gold-standard of Europe’s GDPR statutes.
    I think that similar to my point above, a student’s official email is a point of identity that is specifically-necessary for day-to-day academic purposes. It is fair for Professors administering an online quiz to require that students use their officially-assigned to authenticate and take the quiz. Otherwise, it leaves professors in an unrealistic position where they need to do significant investigative work to determine whether “psyfry” took the quiz, or whether “psyfry” hired someone else to take it for them.
    Another note on the topic of emails, is that when I was doing medical research at my university, we were forbidden from using our university emails to communicate with study participants, and were required to instead use self-hosted encrypted emails in order to comply with federal medical privacy laws specifically on the requirement of encryption.

  • One other miscellaneous point:
    But what if a student discovers corruption at the public institution that they attend?:
    For anyone in this situation, I think most journalists and privacy proponents alike would recommend against using official emails and to instead use tor and say, protonmail or even Orbot and signal. The same goes for any whistle-blower in a corporation, government or educational institution. This not only protects the whistleblower from short-term intimidation or retaliation(eg. deleting hard-earned credits on their four year degree and forcing them to redo them again at a different institution), it also prevents the corrupt party from deleting evidence, as the communications are stored on a third party server that doesn’t necessarily have control over storage, unlike official university emails or authentication credentials

Overall, there are some concessions to privacy that are necessary for education, and that public and private universities are some of the greatest allies in the fight against internet censorship.
I’ve only read that Brazil LGPD data privacy law today, so I’d be interested in hearing whether there are any flaws you’ve noticed in practice vs what’s written in the statute.
Cheers.

Hello @kaiod, thank you for kick-starting the “Education” tag and this very interesting topic :slight_smile: I’m the new Education and Communities Coordinator at Tor so I’ll be working on improving Tor training resources among other things.

I was thinking about how we can make use of the tag, should we add a description to it first? Perhaps something along the lines of “to discuss all things related to teaching people about Tor and integrating Tor within educational institutions”.

Let me know your thoughts around it!

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Hey @raya, welcome :heart:! This is a very important role and I look forward to working with you as a student and youth support arm.

Regarding the tag, I was inactive for a while and couldn’t keep up with everything that happened in the forum. However, I am coming back with everything, and we can generate more dialogue and ideas around here!

In my opinion, I think it is better to create a category for this content, education is something important and comprehensive, and I see the need for the tag to continue to exist, but to have a category as well.

In relation to your description, and suggestion, I found it incredible! We can do it!

Count on my support and help in your work :smile:

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Thank you for your kind and welcoming message @kaiod :heart:

I just added the description to the tag and hopefully that will encourage more people to make use of it!

I really look forward to collaborating on everything that has to do with Tor and education, I’m very reachable so ping me at anytime with all the ideas you have! I will actually open a forum topic now to get input on something small I’m working on.

As for creating new categories, to be very honest, I don’t have any clue what’s the criteria to have a category vs a tag, but from what I understand categories are very general and tags can run through many categories. So “Education” can be a part of a “General Discussion” or “News” or even “Feedback” :slight_smile: In any case, I will ask about it!

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So happy to see this discussion! :purple_heart:

We decided to start with a few categories and expand as the need arises (full discussion about forum categories and topics structure: community/support#40026). To add a new category, please file a ticket: tpo/communiy/support/issues.

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Hello again @raya, I will make the category creation request in Gitlab as @championquizzer explained!

Also, I would like to suggest, if we can’t have an education chat on Matrix (or IRC - libera.chat), to discuss about education more fluidly. We can call teachers and students from other projects to participate as well and we can even resurrect the education mailing lists. What do you think about this?

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Hey @championquizzer, I am also very happy to see this discussion happening, and it seems to be thriving very well!

Regarding the category, I will make the request in Gitlab, to follow up on that =)

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Create an "education" category on the Tor Forum (#40070) · Issues · The Tor Project / Community / Support · GitLab @raya

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I do like the idea of a channel on Matrix :slight_smile: I think we should definitely open a ticket in community support with the suggestion: The Tor Project / Community / Support · GitLab

@kaiod @championquizzer I just added this topic on the agenda for our next community meeting: Riseup Pad :slight_smile:

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