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Re: [tor-talk] Many more Tor users in the past week?

From mirimir:
> On 09/04/2013 06:06 AM, Asa Rossoff wrote:
>> Reviewing known Syrian political and war events occurring, as well as the
>> Muslim and Syrian holiday and festival calendars, as well as reviewing
>> usage data worldwide, and a sampling of major news stories related to
>> privacy and encryption, I came up with something of a timeline, although
>> draw no conclusions from it.
>> Timeline through August 31
>> ==========================
>> * February, a dramatic, roughly ten-fold decrease in Syrian directly
>> connnecting Tor users.
>> * July 9-14, spike in Syria directly connecting users from est. ~ 1,000
>> users, peaking at just over 4,000 users on July 12, and returning to ~
>> users by July 15.  Approximately four-fold increase at peak on July 12.
>> Syrian Usage in the near term both before and after fluctuates up to ~50%
>> and 1,000 is a bit below average; it leveled off around 1,200 within a
>> days of this event, holding steady until August 6.
>> * August 6, rebels in Syria had a strategic victory by capturing Menagh
>> Military Airport after a one-year siege.
>> * August 6-7, Tor usage increased four-fold in Syria, and has ranged
>> ~3,500 and 4,500 directly connecting users since (~4,000 on August 31).
>> * August 8, Ramadan one-month fasting ended.
>> * August 8, Lavabit and Silent Circle shut down.
> OK, so the August 6-7 increase might reflect disruption of government
> censorship. And the July 9-14 spike might reflect the same.
> I don't get why fasting implies not using Tor, however.

Agreed.  I meant no implication.  Although I applied selection criteria to
the timeline, since someone mentioned holidays perhaps having an effect, I
listed the only holiday I know of that was occurring at the time.  The end
of Ramadan is celebrated with gifts (I don't know a lot about it).  There
was a humanitarian effort in Syria to distribute gifts to needy children
(appeared to be by a rebel sympathetic group in rebel controlled
territories), and at least one video about that effort was distributed
online.  I still don't really guess that it relates -- just trying to be

>> So the above events correlate with Syria's four-fold increase in usage,
>> though usage had been extraordinarily low since a dramatic ten-fold
>> in February (with a brief July spike that peaked at four-fold prior usage
>> July 12), so there might be another reason.
> It does seem likely that the increase reflects disruption in censorship.
> Thanks again for the timeline :)

My pleasure. :)

Whatever the case, I do hope that the larger pattern is not an attack on
Tor, which would seem to be the major concern.  If there's more interest and
demand, that will ultimately be good for the success of Tor, I would think.

Hopefully recent increases are reflective of a sudden elevation in privacy
and security concerns in the world, although the suddenness of this
(unprecendented?) expansion is a bit hard to fathom.

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