Helping censored users bootstrap to Tor: Tor launcher improvements and automation
= Background =
Research has shown that many censored users are not able to connect to Tor if Tor is censored in their country. The ones that are able to succeed usually do after multiple attempts and minutes of their time.
To make this process faster and successful the first time, we need to be able to differentiate people connecting from different countries | people at risk and not at risk | people who are censored and not censored, tighten the window for error notifications and give advice, and generally make the settings easier to configure. One grand vision is to one day not involve users in toggling network settings, and to ask for consent and just give them one button that connects them to Tor safely and reliably.
= Objective =
To make it easier for users to connect to Tor, we're going to make some changes to Tor Launcher. We've broken this effort down into three stages:
- design changes: we're going to make interface-only changes that will help the users.
- naive automation: we're going to automate the connection process, by some sort of behavior. We haven't decided on what that behavior is yet, but there are multiple ways to do this. One way would be to try a bunch of relays/bridges in a specific order, and stop when one is reachable. Another way would be to try all the relays/bridges at the same time, and return one that works to the user.
- smart automation: this is a "make it work" button that people can relatively safely click, and it will work for people in most environments with minimized risk. We haven't decided on what that behavior is yet either, but one way to do this is to meek-front the connection, work with bridgeDB and/or some way to identify where the user is from, and give them a relay/bridge that works the first time.