OONI Probe is launching a new and improved OONI Probe mobile application with an updated design and UI as well as new features. This means that we need the help of volunteers to ensure the new application is translated and reviewed into key languages!
To help support translators working on the application updates, the OONI Probe team will be holding an "Office Hour" to answer all of your OONI Probe questions this week!
What is OONI Probe? OONI Probe is free and open source software that allows individual users to test for network interference. OONI tests look for:
Blocking of websites
Blocking of instant messaging apps
Blocking of Tor and other circumvention tools
Detection of systems that could be responsible for censorship and/or surveillance
We need your help to translate & review OONI Probe!
Priority languages are: Russian, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese (Brazil), Arabic, Italian, Persian, Chinese (Simplified), Turkish
By Chido Musodza
From WhatsApp to Instagram, the evolution of technology has brought about some pretty interesting innovations. However, the ever-changing nature of tech has also resulted in what has been termed “the digital divide”.
In low-income countries like mine, privatized mobile network operators and Internet Service Providers are the main drivers of internet access in the country. Because of the high cost of living and huge start-up costs when setting up infrastructure, internet access in Zimbabwe is generally pricier than the regional average — leading to major roadblocks in digital innovation. While efforts have been made to lobby the government and promote infrastructure sharing in order to reduce the cost of access in Zimbabwe, the process has proven to be long and drawn out. A feasible infrastructure sharing plan which would see the players who have more resources agreeing to bring down costs seems far away.
But really, even if access were cheaper, would it actually address the digital divide? Maybe not. Perhaps, part of the solution lies with volunteer translators and the work they do to localize circumvention tools in the tech space.
As someone who comes from a part of the world known in some quarters as “The Global South”, my mother tongue, Shona, is considered a minority language. For this reason, it usually isn’t very high on the “food chain” when it comes time to chose which languages are made available online. In Zimbabwe, economic challenges have meant family members have moved away to different continents altogether. Thankfully the advent of technology has made communication with families easier, but it has also meant that most communication is now mostly through writing (think instant messengers, social media, email etc…). For people whose native language is something other than English (or another “majority” language), an extra effort has to be made to interact with applications — something that in itself presents a barrier to many. Countries, such as mine, have not developed new words for a while now and this means that localized terms for WiFi, encryption, and interface (among other tech terms) are virtually non-existent in our languages. If technology and the internet are going to make any inroads into developing nations, it is important to understand that technology will only be adopted when the local culture and language are reflected in the interface of the tools we are expected to use.
The work of Localization Lab is an opportunity to create access to information in local languages for communities that need that information the most. Though Localization Lab’s core mission is the translation of apps for circumvention tech, the space is an opportunity for volunteer translators like me to make a difference by ensuring that in an ever-changing world that continues to be geared towards tech my language survives, continues to evolve and does not disappear completely. Annual and country-specific collaborative translation events — or Localization Sprints — are the building blocks that have helped shape the way I look at how information on the internet is accessed and consumed by citizens in my home country. The Sprints have also enabled me to see that the challenges with language, context, and attempts to bridge the digital divide are not in vain.
The work done here enables information security, digital literacy, and anyone working in the internet activism space to work towards equipping local communities with digital literacy skills in a language that is familiar and has relatable context. As an information security trainer, this aspect is especially important in countries such as mine, given that we as trainers sometimes find ourselves in rooms full of people who have little to no knowledge of very basic Internet concepts and basic personal digital security techniques. With each training that I have had to adapt, change and play around with to suit the group, I am left with a deeper impression that we as trainers need to have applications and information in our mother tongue. This can only happen if there are people working to translate the information and the applications.
Through Localization Lab, the much bigger conversations around language development are beginning to take shape and that, in my teapot shaped country, is the start of the journey of 1,000 miles.
So I leave you with this thought of mine:
“The translations are a starting point. A starting point to ensure my mother tongue stays relevant, a starting point to bridge the digital divide caused by language and context, and indeed the starting point to unlock the potential of my fellow countrymen and women. Indeed all this starts with volunteering to translate applications”.
The Localization Lab knows that the work we do would be impossible without the help of incredible contributors who make up the community. If you have used Psiphon in Arabic, browsed the Tor Support Portal in Indonesian, downloaded Signal in Khmer, or accessed OONI probe in Greek, it is all thanks to community members who are dedicated to making Internet freedom technology accessible in different languages.
The Contributor Spotlight is a way to highlight some of the community members who are unlocking access to digital security technology. For this post, we want to show our gratitude to the contributor AO. We spoke with AO about his work as French language coordinator, the importance of quality localization, and what drives him to localize Internet freedom technology.
How did you first hear about and get involved with the Localization Lab?
After three decades of working for various employers, a couple years ago I was ready to give to the community through volunteer work. I was using various open source software on Ubuntu and I thought the translations could be better. The proliferation of mobile apps came with, what I considered to be, the spread of bad translations. I knew nothing about crowd-sourced localization at the time, but soon discovered a global volunteer force translating apps, websites, operating systems and the like. I started with Ubuntu and with some open source applications I was using on a regular basis. I liked the challenge, and I liked seeing the result of my translations going into production.
One of the apps I wanted to work on was translated on Transifex, and I discovered a host of other projects I could dedicate myself to. I was interested in digital security, so I quickly came across projects hosted by the Localization Lab on Transifex. I fully dedicated myself to the task, first translating, then reviewing and coordinating language teams. I guess the amount of work I was putting into the Localization Lab’s managed projects drew the executive director’s attention. She contacted me and asked if I was interested in attending the Internet Freedom Festival in 2015. I accepted the invitation and the rest is history. I have been coordinating the French language translations of all Localization Lab’s projects ever since.
What has motivated you to take such an active role in the Localization Lab community?
I have a lot of experience in management and information technology. So for me, quality is paramount and I see localization as any other part of software or content delivery -- it has to be good quality before it goes to the users. Crowd-sourced translations can come with issues related to quality. I knew it would be a long never-ending task, but I decided to tackle it. Furthermore, with its clear translation guidelines and reviewing process structure, devoting my time to the Localization Lab was and still is a sound manner to approach the problem. I know that the quality translations offered by the Localization Lab reach millions of users and set a standard as far as crowd-sourced localization goes. Not many open source projects have the means to hire professional translators -- the Localization Lab is the next best thing.
What are some of the challenges you face when localizing tools into French?
French is one of the languages where technical terminology exists natively. As with many other languages, the use of English terminology spreads in French when there is really no reason for it. For me, one of the challenges is to make sure proper terminology is being used. I work with certified terminologists on a regular basis and many people like me who strive to offer quality French terminology no matter what their field of expertise may be. So yes, it's about offering products that French speakers will understand but it's also about education in a way. I can see French terms used by the Localization Lab being used more and more in translations that have nothing to do with us and I think we contribute to that.
What drives you to localize Internet freedom tools?
The Internet reaches almost everywhere and is one of the major achievements of the human race. It has changed the way we communicate and interact with others. What is a human being without freedom? Internet Freedom tools and digital security apps help to give back freedom in oppressed countries, but more generally they help everyone to protect their freedom of speech, and the privacy of their data. The vast majority of people do not read or understand English. The Localization Lab language teams give people access to these tools in their native languages and help spread freedom on the Internet and in the digital age.
“Contributor Insights…” is a series of interviews leveraging the experience of Localization Lab contributors in order to provide more insight into the needs, threats, and challenges faced by users living and working in different parts of the world.
In July, Cambodians took to the polls in an election that favored incumbent Prime Minister Hu Sen. The lead up to the general election saw further crackdowns on the CNRP opposition party, civil society organizations, independent press outlets and multiple international NGOs. Recently, Hu Sen’s government announced a new directive against “fake news” which would require websites to register with the country’s information ministry, leading to jail time and fines for users who are found guilty of spreading fake information. This latest move is leading to fears that heightened state surveillance will mean more attacks on freedom of expression.
Localization Lab interviewed Khmer-speaking community members who shared insights into the need for digital security tools that fit the Cambodian context and what developers can do to make their tools more accessible.
How concerned are everyday people about what the current political situation means for their overall freedoms?
It varies a lot. Many people know that the situation is serious but they are afraid to stand up to it, and other people simply don’t care. The older generations have lived through the instability of the past and they are scared about what could happen in the country if more instability arises. The younger generation seems split down the middle: Some are more concerned with their everyday lives than with the human rights situation while others are working to change what is happening.
How common is it for everyday people to be concerned about digital security?
Many Cambodians are not very knowledgeable about the digital world, so it is still not very common for everyday people to think about digital security. In general, the concept of digital security is quite new. People are more familiar with the term ICT, so it is easier for people to understand if “digital security” projects are described as “ICT” projects.
However, more and more people are seeing news articles covering phone tapping, website hacking, Facebook accounts compromised, and recently the PM said “Only 8 Minutes to Locate Cyber Insult on Facebook”.
If they do have digital security and censorship concerns, who are they threat modelling against?
Some people might threat model against hackers or some typical online money scams, but the majority are threat modelling against local authorities and the government. The government announced the creation of a “Cyber War Team” a number of years ago which was tasked with monitoring online activity that caused so-called “instability”. Also, with the support of the Chinese government, they are going to install CCTV cameras all over the capital which is supposed to monitor traffic violations, but some people are not so sure if that is the real reason behind its use.
What are the most common methods that people use to protect their privacy and security online? Are there any non-technical methods being employed (i.e. self-censorship)?
For people who have more awareness of digital security techniques, they try to only use secure tools that can protect their data and also have some personal rules for themselves like always turn off the location on their phones, use strong passwords, never click on suspicious links etc… Sometimes, they stay offline and meet face-to-face.
People have also learned to self-censor. Even if you are not personally scared and decide not to self-censor, your family and friends might pressure you to self-censor because they are scared for you.
What digital security and circumvention tools are most likely to be adopted by Cambodian users and why do you think they are more likely to be adopted?
Tools that are very user friendly are much more likely to be adopted, especially tools that work for people who don’t know how to read or write well in Khmer — so tools that use a lot of icons/symbols and Khmer words that are easy to understand. Something that is similar to Facebook (in terms of ease of use) would work well in the Cambodian context. Cambodian users are very familiar with Facebook and Facebook messenger, it is something they use daily. They are comfortable with the interface. If there were a tool that was similar to Facebook, but secure, open source and didn’t ask for personal info when users joined — Cambodians would use it.
However, no matter what is introduced, if there is no training about new tools, people won’t even know they exist. For example, Signal is not popular at the moment and many people prefer to use popular communication tools. What is the point of using Signal when your friends are staying on different channels?
What are some of the biggest obstacles for adoption of these methods on a wider scale?
There are many obstacles to the adoption of these tools in a Cambodian context. First of all, language is a big problem. Young Cambodians are really the only ones who can understand English, so when a tool is only in English it takes a long time for people to adopt the technology. You can’t just put these tools out there and hope people will catch on by themselves because understanding everything on their own is just impossible.
Another issue concerns people who can’t read or write. There is still a sector of the population with high rates of illiteracy, so it is difficult for people to use digital security tools and be safe when they can’t understand the interface. Simply put — if people can’t read, they really can’t use the tools securely.
The terminology used in the tools can also be a pain because it often doesn’t make sense when translated into Khmer. The tools really need to be localized not just translated directly.
The last issue concerns overall adoption. Many people see digital security as something that is only for activists or for frontline defenders. They don’t understand that digital security is important for everyone. There needs to be better messaging so people understand that digital security threats can affect anyone.
What can developers do to make these tools more accessible for people who can’t read or write?
Developers should create interfaces that are less complex with a lot of easy to understand visuals. Perhaps voice narration functions which are available in local languages could be useful for certain tools. Quick start pop-up screens with animations might be helpful for first time users.
In your estimate, what sector of the population is currently benefiting from the use of these tools? How can developers reach the other people in need?
At this moment, I think that only people who are activists or human rights defenders are benefiting from the use of these tools. Perhaps a small number of people who have direct contact with those human rights defenders (like their immediate family) are benefiting as well.
There is a need to really identify the people at risk, provide more training, practice and encouragement to use the tools. This sounds simple, but it is hard to do.
Developers can reach more people by making these tools easier to use, localizing them more and, if possible, working closer with the people who deal directly with users. For a small country like Cambodia, it is very hard to get in touch with developers and, the truth is, we need these tools the most.
The Community-led training series leverages the expertise of our contributors, providing an opportunity for our volunteers both to learn and to share their skills. The idea for the series was born out of conversations with contributors about different ways to structure our monthly meetups, and how to best engage members of the community at large.
The first training in our series is an Introduction to Weblate, a web-based translation management platform, which was facilitated by Loic Dachary from SecureDrop with a guest appearance from the Weblate developer, Michal Čihař.
We are hoping that the training topics will be as varied and diverse as the community itself -- the suggested themes don’t have to be limited to localization. So far, our contributors have shown interest in the following training ideas:
- How to write a good feature request/bug report in Git.
- How to use a dictation plugin as a localization assist.
- How to use filters in Transifex to make your work easier.
- How to run a Tor relay.
- How to use Docker Images securely.
If you have a skill you would like to share or a topic you would like to learn more about, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to our amazing contributors we are able to share a video of the Weblate training. Take a look and let us know what you think!
“Contributor Insights…” is a series of interviews leveraging the experience of Localization Lab contributors in order to provide more insight into the needs, threats, and challenges faced by users living and working in different parts of the world.
Breton is a Brittonic Celtic language spoken in Brittany, France and despite seeing its numbers dwindle from 1 million in 1950 to a little more than 200,000, Breton speakers are pushing to ensure their language grows. Bilingual “diwan” schools are offering Breton immersion education across Brittany and some estimates show that the number of children learning Breton is on the rise; however, like many minority languages, Breton must constantly fight for a place at the table.
Localization Lab spoke with a Breton language localizer who is working to offer open source tools to his community and, in the process, claim space online for other Breton speakers.
In your opinion, how do individuals in your community and in France generally view Breton?
This is a very complicated issue. During France’s Third Republic, Breton was banned entirely from schools, and there are many stories of children who were beaten by their teachers for using the language. My own father was beaten when he spoke Breton at school. This oppressive policy against minority language speakers lead to many people feeling ashamed to speak Breton — for some, this feeling still exists. Before WWII, there were so many of us and now there are only about 200,000 speakers. That means our speaking population has been cut down from around 1.5 million at the beginning of the 1900’s to the numbers we have today. So even though the government is working to support Breton now, it often feels like it is not doing enough.
How do you go about choosing tools to work on? Are there specific tools that are particularly important for the needs of your community?
I think it is important to work on tools that promote the Breton language for young people. Right now I am working on localizing video game software which targets teenagers. I want them to see the language in the games they play, so they can learn new words and expressions while having fun.
I am personally interested in projects like Tor and No Script because I think it is very important for everyone to protect themselves online. If Google Chrome were to offer me the opportunity to work on a project with them, I would turn it down. I prefer open source software.
How has your community come to a consensus on technology terms that don’t exist in Breton? What are the challenges with creating new terminology?
The Breton language has a public office which updates new terminology in a dictionary they have created. However, there is another “purist” dictionary by an organization called Preder which prefers to stay away from modern terms and instead looks to Old Breton and Middle Breton (sometimes even Old and Middle Welsh and Cornish) in order to have the most “celtic” source of words for their dictionary.
There is an interesting debate between both schools of thought which can be quite challenging to navigate. The public office allows for international loan words and others that have been “Bretonized” in their dictionary, whereas the Preder group feels that permitting those types of words promotes so-called “bad” Breton.
An example of this is the word “sandwich”. For the public office dictionary, the word “sandwich” is acceptable while the Preder dictionary prefers the term “bara pok ha pok” (literally translated as bread kiss and kiss).
There is a lot of conflict between these two approaches to Breton. Some people feel that incorporating loan words from other languages is not real Breton while others feel that purists, like Preder, are making things more complicated. An expression that people use when referring to this is, “Brezhoneg chimik eo” (it’s chemical Breton) which is a derogatory way for people to refer to purists, implying that they use a type of “chemistry” to invent complicated words.
When you translate do you use a “purist” approach or a more flexible approach?
I personally prefer the more flexible approach because the words are more understandable for everyone. I have participated in translations, like the translation of Firefox, that used a more purist approach but the meaning of some of the words was not always clear to me — and I am a translator! I think that if it’s difficult for me, regular people who use the tools will also be confused.
This is a big problem because if people become confused by the translation, they will probably switch to using the tool in French and that would defeat the purpose of translating it in the first place.
Looking specifically at localization of technology, what are some of the biggest challenges that you face when localizing into Breton?
All Breton speakers can speak French because the Breton community was forced to learn French; however, not all Breton speakers can read in Breton. This poses a big problem when localizing software because a lot of Breton speakers are illiterate in their own language. For this reason, many people don’t want to use software in their own language. It’s difficult to say who is at fault whether it be the government, households, schools etc…
What is the one piece of advice that you would give to speakers of a minority language as they try to build community and make more content available in their language?
Behind all of the translations we are doing is a Facebook group that is dedicated to discussions around localization and translation. It is almost 100% in Breton and it aims to help the Breton-speaking community produce high-quality localizations for software. When someone has difficulty translating something into Breton, they can ask the community for advice. The group is very interesting because it is made up of people who prefer the purist approach and others who have a more flexible philosophy about the language. Some of our members even belong to the public office. There are some other groups out there that have these conversations without an element of respect. For us, respecting one another is key.
If you had to tell people why it is important to localize tools into Breton, what would you say?
For me, it is really important to make an effort to translate software into a lot of different minority languages. If we don’t work on these projects, we won’t challenge ourselves to grow as a language. We won’t challenge ourselves to build new vocabulary. By taking on these localization projects, it’s also a way to reappropriate the software for our own communities.
Some people ask me, “Why are you translating into Breton?”. Maybe they wouldn’t ask me this if I was a French translator because they would see the value immediately. But if Breton is still spoken now, it’s because a lot of people decided to create language associations to promote its use. They saw that the French government wasn’t doing enough to support minority languages, so they decided to interview the older generation of Breton speakers, to create and translate literature, like Jean de le Fontaine. The Breton language is surviving because a lot of speakers worked hard to preserve it and, nowadays, it is important for us to translate software if we want our language to survive.
Erinm will be on vacation from the 23rd of July through the 5th of August. If you have any urgent questions, please direct them to Andrea (acb555 in Mattermost, email@example.com via email) and she will assist you.
Introducing our new community-led training series!
Session 1: Intro to Weblate
Join us on August 16th @ 13:00 UTC on Jitsi Meet for an Introduction to Weblate training session facilitated by @dachary. If you want to contribute to projects that are already working with Weblate (like SecureDrop) or you are just curious to learn more, drop by and find out how this translation platform works!
OpenKeychain will be releasing version 5.2 of the application by 27th of July. There are several languages that just need a little push to reach 100% translation including the following:
Dutch (nl), German (de), Dutch (Belgium) (nl_BE), Ukrainian (uk), Spanish (es), Portuguese (Brazil) (pt_BR), Japanese (ja), Chinese (zh), Basque (eu), Serbian (sr), Swedish (sv), Galician (gl), Italian (it)
Let us know if you are interested in providing review for any of the above languages.
Both Briar Project and Ooni Probe have been translated into Dutch and now require review. If you are available to help with review of either project, please let us know so that we can provide you the necessary permissions and put you in touch with the original translator.
Localization Lab Community Meeting
Mark your calendars! We will be hosting another community meeting this Thursday, July 12th at 13:00 UTC and would love to hear from new and returning voices in the community. The meeting will be held on Jitsi Meet.
This is an opportunity to ask questions, bring up concerns, make suggestions and propose projects that you think will move the Localization Lab community forward. It is also an opportunity to interact with fellow contributors and put voices to usernames.
Please feel free to suggest topics for discussion in the open notes document.
Even if you are not able to attend, feel free to add topics and questions that you would like us to cover in the meeting.
SecureDrop Community Meeting
From the SecureDrop Forum:
The SecureDrop Community meeting is the best way to get a quick overview of what happened in the past month. It also is the time for everyone to connect, ask for help and announce their intention to do something new.
When: 23rd July 2018
Presentations 6:00pm-6:30pm Paris/Berlin time
Extended optional and unstructured discussions: 6:30pm-7:00pm Paris/Berlin time
Surveillance Self-Defense Guides
At a recent Localization Sprint, Khmer and Bahasa Indonesia-speaking groups localized the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense guides for Signal Android and Signal iOS in addition to localizing updates to Signal Android, iOS and Desktop.
Want to take a look at the draft guides? There are available to view below. Feel free to provide feedback so that we can incorporate it prior to finalizing the guides once we are able to include localized screenshots!
Thank you to all of the volunteers that contributed to the Courier project over the past month. As a result of everyone’s efforts, Courier has been translated into 22 languages, with only a couple that still require review (Japanese, Hindi, Tamil).
Courier is now looking for feedback on which news feeds to include in the default feed lists of the localized Courier applications. Have suggestions for feeds that should be included in the default list of news RSS feeds in the following languages? Share them with us!
Arabic, Azerbaijani, Breton, Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian (Bokmål), Persian, Portuguese (Brazil), Tamil, Telugu, Turkish, Ukrainian
If you speak German, Norwegian (Bokmål), Italian, Hungarian or French there are feed lists available that we would like feedback on that we can pass through Transifex message or via email. Please let us know if you are interested in reviewing the list.