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Re: [tor-talk] Tor users in US up by nearly 100,000 this month

Scfith Riseup writes:

> Nope.
> Indication that Tor in use uptick unfortunately could point to more
> bots collecting Tor, not necessarily people using Tor. Wish there was
> a way to differentiate bots from meat.

Amusingly, CloudFlare would probably be in a position to do so because
they present many Tor users with CAPTCHAs.  While this has annoyed Tor
users quite a bit, if we assume that

* old and new Tor users are about equally likely to attempt the CAPTCHA
* old and new Tor users are about equally likely to pass it
* old and new users visit a similar proportion of CloudFlare-hosted sites
  via Tor exits
* CAPTCHAs are relatively effective at preventing access by bots
* CloudFlare keeps logs that clearly identify total volumes of successful
  CAPTCHA completion from Tor exit nodes

then CloudFlare would have good, meaningful data about trends in human
use of Tor.  They wouldn't know the overall volume of human or bot use
of Tor, but they could tell pretty accurately when human use is up or
down and by what fraction.

One confounding factor would arise if the new users are significantly
more or less likely than old users to use onion services.

I'd be happy to ask CloudFlare if they'd be willing to share this data
(maybe in relative rather than absolute numeric terms, like "the number
of people successfully completing a CAPTCHA per day from a Tor exit
node on September 1, 2017 is x% of what it was on January 1, 2016").

Seth Schoen  <schoen@xxxxxxx>
Senior Staff Technologist                       https://www.eff.org/
Electronic Frontier Foundation                  https://www.eff.org/join
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