Tor Project's Ooniprobe app checks if you are censored

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 10, 2017
Google Android
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1

The Tor Project released ooniprobe designed to run checks to see if you are being censored for Android and iOS mobile devices.

The app is designed to run a series of tests to find out about evidence of censorship, and information on the speed and performance of the network used by the mobile phone.

Before you can use it however, it walks you through a series of informational pages, a quick test that you have to pass, and a configuration page for the program's data collecting functionality.

Once you are passed all that, you are taken to the run tests page. You find the three available tests -- web connectivity, HTTP invalid request line, and NDT speed test, listed on the page.

Tor Project's Ooniprobe app

Simply tap on run next to a test to run it at that point. While you can tap on all three in rapid succession, it is probably better to run only one test at a time.

Web Connectivity attempts to connect to dozens of URLs taken from this master list.

Please note that these URLs include sites that you may not want to be linked to, or that even may get you into trouble. It includes categories such as gambling, sex, hacking, religion or P2P just to name a few.

Tests don't take long to run, and results are always shown on the past tests page which you need to switch to.

Past tests are color coded indicating whether a test was successful or failed. Red meaning that a test failed.

The screenshot above shows that the Web Connectivity test failed.

You can open the test results to find out more about what has been tested. If you open the Web Connectivity test for instance, you see the list of URLs used by the test.

Red connections indicate connection issues, while green connections worked fine. You may tap on the view button next to each tested URL to display detailed information.

One option that is missing here is to re-run the test for that particular URL. If the test used http to connect to the site, it may suggest using HTTPS or Tor as circumvention strategies. The https link is active and you may tap on it to find out whether the site loads fine using it.

Since you may get unknown errors when trying to connect to some of these URLs, you may want to test connections again to make sure connections to these URLS are blocked and not just caused by temporary loading issues.

All connection tests that failed had an unknown error for instance on the device I tested this on. Manual tests of the URLs resulted in the sites being accessible. I re-ran the tests but unknown errors did creep up in all future tests made using ooniprobe.

This is unfortunate, as it means that you will have to test the failed sites manually to verify the findings. The lack of the re-test button makes this less comfortable than it could be.

Closing Words

Ooniprobe is a free app for Android that requires no extra permissions. Information on the tests is shared online, but you may select the scope of that somewhat during the initial setup phase.

The app needs a run tests connection test again button for failed URLs, but that is the only issue I encountered during tests.

The developers plan to add more tests to the application this year including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger tests.

Now You: How did the tests turn out for you?

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Ooniprobe
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Security
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Comments

  1. Albert said on August 18, 2023 at 1:49 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for the tip Martin.

    It is for these kinds of posts that I follow GHacks.

    1. Mike Williams said on August 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm
      Reply

      What’s up with the generic comment, are you a bot?

  2. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:23 pm
    Reply

    2G?

    Where on the planet is that still in use? I was forced to give up using my RAZRV3 years ago because 2G was phased out by AT&T.

    1. arbuz said on August 20, 2023 at 5:02 pm
      Reply

      Everywhere 3G has been turned off and you don’t have LTE coverage, and believe me there are many developed countries where this is the case and if it weren’t for 2G you wouldn’t even be able to make a phone call.

    2. Doc Fuddled said on August 31, 2023 at 5:55 pm
      Reply

      Maybe I missed it, but I don’t believe tha term “2G” is in the article. Perhaps you are referring to “AGM G2”??

  3. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm
    Reply

    @Martin

    Your website has gone insane.

    When I the post button I then saw my comment posted on a different article page. When I opened this article again, it is here.

    1. Martin P. said on August 31, 2023 at 4:39 pm
      Reply

      @Tachy @Martin Brinkmann

      ” Your website has gone insane. ”

      Same here. Has happened several times.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:42 am
        Reply

        @Tachy,
        @Martin P.,

        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        https://www.ghacks.net/windows-11-update-stuck-fixed-for-good/#comment-4572991
        https://www.ghacks.net/windows-11-update-stuck-fixed-for-good/#comment-4572951
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

  4. Anonymous said on August 18, 2023 at 11:17 pm
    Reply

    @tachy a lot of non-phone devices with a sim in them rely on 2G, at least here in europe.
    Usually things reporting usage or errors/alarms on something remote that does not get day to day inspection in person. They are out there in vast numbers doing important work. Reliable, good range. The low datarate is no problem at all in those cases.
    3G is gone or on its last legs everywhere, but this stuff still has too much use to cancel.

    Anyhow, interesting that they would put that in. I can see the point if you suspect a hostile 2G environment (amateur eavesdroppers with laptop, ranging up to professional grade MITM fake towers while “strangely” not getting the stronger crypto voip 4G because it is being jammed, and back down to something as old ‘stingray’ devices fallen into the wrong hands).

    But does this also mean that they have handled and rolled out a fix for that nasty 4G ‘pwn by broadcast’ problem you reported earlier this year? I had 4G disabled due to that, on the off chance that some of the local criminals would buy some cheap chinese gear, download a working exploit and probe every phone in range all over town in the hope of getting into phones of the police.

  5. Andy Prough said on August 19, 2023 at 3:04 am
    Reply

    >”While most may never be attacked in stingrays, it is still recommended to disable 2G cellular connections, especially since it does not have any downsides.”

    The downside would be losing connectivity. I spend a lot of time way out in the countryside where there’s often no service or almost none. My network allows 2G, and I need it sometimes. I have an option on the phone to disable 2G, I may do that when I’m in the city and I have good 5G connectivity, but not out in the country.

    I would imagine that the stingray exploits, like most of the bad things in this world, are probably things you will run into in the crowded big cities.

  6. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 3:40 am
    Reply

    I stopped using it in a mobile (Wi-Fi line) environment, so I’m almost ignorant of the actual situation,
    But the recent reality in Japan makes me realize that “the infrastructure of the web is nothing more than a papier-mâché fiction”.
    https://www.ghacks.net/2023/08/17/google-chrome-to-enable-https-first-by-default-for-all-users/#comment-4572402

    It is already beyond the scope of what an individual can do.
    What we should be aware of is the reality that “governments and those in power want to control the world through the Web”, and efforts to counter (resist and prevent) such ambitions are necessary.

  7. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 9:27 pm
    Reply

    Why do you want people to disable the privacy features? Hmmmmm?

  8. Anonymous said on August 27, 2023 at 2:30 am
    Reply

    Now You: do you plan to keep the Ads privacy features enabled?

    I’d like to tell you, but apparently if you make a post critical of Google, you get censored. * [Editor: removed, just try to bring your opinion across without attacking anyone]

  9. Tachy said on August 27, 2023 at 5:15 am
    Reply

    @Martin

    You website is still psychotic. Comments attach to random stories.

  10. John G. said on August 28, 2023 at 2:46 pm
    Reply

    @Martin please do fix the comments, it’s completely insane commenting here! :[

  11. ECJ said on August 28, 2023 at 5:37 pm
    Reply

    @Martin

    The comments are seriously messed up on gHacks now. These comments are mixed with the article at the below URL.

    https://www.ghacks.net/2023/08/18/android-how-to-disable-2g-cellular-connections-to-improve-security/

    And comments on other articles are from as far back as 2010.

  12. Naimless said on August 29, 2023 at 12:57 am
    Reply

    What does this article has anything to do with all the comments on this article? LOL I think this Websuite is ran by ChatGPT. every article is messed up. Some older comments from 2015 shown up in recant articles, LOL

  13. Paul Knight said on August 31, 2023 at 3:35 am
    Reply

    The picture captioned “Clearing the Android Auto’s cache might resolve the issue” is from Apple Carplay ;)

  14. Anonymous said on August 31, 2023 at 9:57 pm
    Reply

    How about other things that matter:
    Drop survival?
    Screen toughness?
    Degree of water and dust protection?

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