Between November 6 and 9, the Tor Project and Localization Lab will host the first edition of Tor Project’s localization hackathon, the Tor L10n Hackaton. A hackathon is an event where a community hangs out and works together to update, fix, and collaborate on a project. The L10n Hackathon is a totally remote and online event.
In this localization hackathon we’re going to work exclusively on the localization of our latest resource, the Tor Community portal. The Community portal is organized into sections: Training, Outreach, Onion Services, Localization, User Research, and Relay Operations. Each section helps users understand how they can get involved in each of these activities to build and strengthen the community supporting the Tor Project.
Localization of Tor Browser and the Community portal are important. Only a minority of internet users are native or second-language speakers of English, however censorship and surveillance are global challenges that affect us all on a daily basis. Ensuring Tor Browser and Tor resources are available in as many languages as possible removes a large barrier to access for those in need of a more secure, anonymous online presence and those who would like to contribute to Tor Project. Tor Browser is currently available to download in 28 languages, and our main website can be read in 11 languages. To support users and build community in all of these languages, it’s important to also have the Tor website, Support portal and Community portal localized.
Maintaining a browser like Tor Browser has its challenges but also its rewards. It allows us to reach faster adoption of important technologies like onion services, providing a more secure browsing experience for all Tor users. Improving the treatment of onion services on the browser side, however, comes with its own challenges both for users and service providers and it is important to reflect on those as a requirement for future growth. Thus, we feel it is time to take stock in this blog post and outline the steps we have taken over the years to improve the user experience and adoption of onion services, the challenges we faced and continue to face, and what the future might look like.
What does this mean and how did we get here?
Onions services are self-authenticating and provide integrity and confidentiality by default. That means once you are connected to an onion service you can be sure you are talking to the one you tried to reach and your data is not manipulated or read by Man-In-The-Middle-attackers. HTTPS was introduced over 20 years ago to provide some of those properties for plain web traffic (HTTP) when communicating with a server.
There’s a new alpha release available for download. If you build Tor from source, you can download the source code for 0.4.4.1-alpha from the download page. Packages should be available over the coming weeks, with a new alpha Tor Browser release by early July.
Remember, this is an alpha release: you should only run this if you’d like to find and report more bugs than usual.
This is the first alpha release in the 0.4.4.x series. It improves our guard selection algorithms, improves the amount of code that can be disabled when running without relay support, and includes numerous small bugfixes and enhancements. It also lays the ground for some IPv6 features that we’ll be developing more in the next (0.4.5) series.
Tor, like much of the world, has been caught up in the COVID-19 crisis. Like many other nonprofits and small businesses, the crisis has hit us hard, and we have had to make some difficult decisions.
We had to let go of 13 great people who helped make Tor available to millions of people around the world. We will move forward with a core team of 22 people, and remain dedicated to continuing our work on Tor Browser and the Tor software ecosystem.
The world won’t be the same after this crisis, and the need for privacy and secure access to information will become more urgent. In these times, being online is critical and many people face ongoing obstacles to getting and sharing needed information. We are taking today’s difficult steps to ensure the Tor Project continues to exist and our technology stays available.