[tor-relays] Is Tor Actually "Blocked" In Russia, or Are Some Users Unblocked for now?

Hi tor-relays@,

While I don't live in Russia, nor are my parents from Russia (they're from India), today, I noticed these articles that some people noticed Tor is blocked in Russia (sorry for being late):

Yet, when I look at Tor Relay Status, I noticed many relays hosted on Russian residential ISPs are still online, and only a few aren't:

Moscow City Telephone:
  *Relay Search

Rostelecom:
  * Relay Search
  * Relay Search
  * Relay Search

Vimpelcom:
  * Relay Search
  * Relay Search

MTS:
  * Relay Search

I didn't notice a big reduction in "relay" users on Metrics: Users – Tor Metrics

But did see an increase in "bridge" users: Users – Tor Metrics

And most Ooni results still show Tor can connect fine: Search through millions of Internet censorship measurements | OONI Explorer

I feel it could be possible it's one of the two:

  * Most likely, the censorship rollout is in stages. Some users are blocked but other's aren't, where it wasn't rolled out is still unblocked.

  * Less likely, but Russia found people could use pluggable transports, like HTTPS obfs4 bridges and maybe they found blocking Tor itself is ineffective, or trying to block "meek" users ended up blocking Microsoft and ASP.NET/Azure-based webapps.

Disclaimer: I work at Microsoft, but not on Azure as of now. I did however interview for a position in the Azure umbrella (not on the CDN however).

-Neel Chauhan

···

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Hi,

Hi tor-relays@,

While I don't live in Russia, nor are my parents from Russia (they're from
India), today, I noticed these articles that some people noticed Tor is
blocked in Russia (sorry for being late):

OONI reports of Tor blocking in certain ISPs since 2021-12-01 - Russia - NTC
Tor blocked in Russia: how to circumvent censorship

Yet, when I look at Tor Relay Status, I noticed many relays hosted on
Russian residential ISPs are still online, and only a few aren't:

Moscow City Telephone:
*Relay Search

Rostelecom:
* Relay Search
* Relay Search
* Relay Search

Vimpelcom:
* Relay Search
* Relay Search

MTS:
* Relay Search

As it was mentioned on ntc.party thread, some ISPs are anomalous:

"Note that AS 12389 of Rostelecom is in the above blocked list, but that
AS and other ASes of Rostelecom are also in the below unblocked list.
Also note that AS 16345 is in both lists—there was one normal
measurement for this AS, but about 30 blocked ones."

I didn't notice a big reduction in "relay" users on Metrics: Users – Tor Metrics

But did see an increase in "bridge" users: Users – Tor Metrics

FWIW, the last Tor Metrics stats are from December 03, so we will see a
change on the graph in the next days. (This event started on December 1).

Another interesting graph:
https://metrics.torproject.org/bridgedb-distributor.html

This spike on Moat could mean users are trying to get a working bridge,
but moat bridges aren't functional, so they try again and again... As
mentioned by ValdikSS.

And most Ooni results still show Tor can connect fine: Search through millions of Internet censorship measurements | OONI Explorer

Yup, it's a partial block.

I feel it could be possible it's one of the two:

* Most likely, the censorship rollout is in stages. Some users are blocked
but other's aren't, where it wasn't rolled out is still unblocked.

Probably. We're getting a lot of messages in Russian on our support
channels. So, yes, although it's not a country wide Tor block, some
users in Russia are experiencing censorship.

Remember that Russia is in the #2 in the Tor users rank:
https://metrics.torproject.org/userstats-relay-table.html

* Less likely, but Russia found people could use pluggable transports, like
HTTPS obfs4 bridges and maybe they found blocking Tor itself is ineffective,
or trying to block "meek" users ended up blocking Microsoft and
ASP.NET/Azure-based webapps.

I don't think so.

Gus

ps: IMO, this thread should move to anti-censorship team mailing list
https://lists.torproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/anti-censorship-team

···

On Sun, Dec 05, 2021 at 03:58:29PM -0800, Neel Chauhan wrote:

Disclaimer: I work at Microsoft, but not on Azure as of now. I did however
interview for a position in the Azure umbrella (not on the CDN however).

-Neel Chauhan
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tor-relays mailing list
tor-relays@lists.torproject.org
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The Tor Project
Community Team Lead

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