Summary: SecureDrop AMA

Thank you to all who participated in the recent Ask Me Anything with the SecureDrop team! The discussion was littered with diverse questions about who uses and can use SecureDrop, the tool's technical features and localization needs. Below you will find some key resources and questions as well as an abridged transcript of the discussion.

Want to see more AMAs with Localization Lab supported projects? Let us know who you would like to see an AMA for or if you are a project that would like to host one.

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Contributor Insights into Turkmenistan

“Contributor Insights into Turkmenistan” is the first of a series of Localization Lab user profiles and interviews leveraging the experience of Localization Lab contributors in order to provide more insight into the needs and threats of minority language users and users living and working in closed societies.

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New Project: FreedomBox

We are excited to announce that FreedomBox is joining the Localization Lab community!

FreedomBox is a simple private server, wireless internet router, and multi-purpose tool designed to create internet freedom with only free software and inexpensive hardware. FreedomBox is a Debian-based system designed to protect against data-mining, surveillance, and censorship. It empowers users to leave the cloud and take control of their data by hosting services on a private server.

And to welcome FreedomBox into the fold and properly introduce the project, we will be hosting an Ask Me Anything with the FreedomBox team on Saturday, September 30th at 14:00 UTC in the Localization Lab Mattermost channel! Mark your calendars and come ready with any questions and feedback that you might have. This event will be open to all, regardless of your familiarity with FreedomBox.

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Summary: Tor Project AMA

Thank you to all who attended and contributed to the Localization Lab’s inaugural Mattermost Ask Me Anything with the Tor Project! The event was a great success thanks to your insightful questions and the broad range of talent that the Tor Project brought to the discussion!

Want to see more AMAs with Localization Lab supported projects? Let us know who you would like to see an AMA for or if you are a project that would like to participate.

Tor Project Attendees

@arma: Roger Dingledine, the original Tor person
@tomrittervg: Tom Ritter, long-time Tor volunteer and currently working for Mozilla on Tor Browser Patch Uplift and supporting Tor Browser
@arthuredelstein: Arthur, Tor Browser developer
@mcs: Mark Smith, tor Browser developer
@phoul: Colin Childs, Tor Support and Localization Coordinator
@flexlibris: Alison, Tor Community Team Lead

Key Takeaways & Questions

Tor Resources you may have forgotten about:

Getting up to speed on Tor's past, present, and future
The ultimate Tor resource that will point you to all of the documentation and information Tor has available for users and contributors, including the Legal FAQ, Tor blog, Tor bugtracker, Tor mailing list etc.

Tor Introductory Brochure
A printable brochure intended for skeptics and individuals unfamiliar with Tor. The brochure is currently available in 11 languages, but the team would love to have it available in more. Follow the link for translation instructions.

Contact Tor:

IRC: You can find the Tor team on in one of the following channels depending on your topic:
#tor: For general Tor questions and support. For users of Tor.
#tor-project: Discussion related to events, outreach and translation.
#tor-dev: For those interested in Tor development.

Some Discussion Outcomes:

  • The Tor team will consider including up-to-date translations in nightly builds.
  • Tor Project may consider translating the Tor user manual into languages for which there are no current Tor translations.
  • Bundling languages into the Tor Browser (like Firefox) is a possibility. It does not appear to require significant resources.
  • The Tor Project and Psiphon are both interested in initiating discussions on how to improve user feedback. If you are interested in helping push forward these discussions, please contact us.
  • There is interest from Localization Lab and the Tor Project in how to build narratives for different communities surrounding using Tor. If you are interested in contributing to further discussion, please contact us.

Selected Questions:

*Note that this is only a selection of the questions asked during the AMA. A manicured version of all of the AMA questions is available on our site (We highly recommend - it's a good read!) and the full unabridged conversation is available on our Mattermost channel. Questions and Answers below have in most cases been paraphrased.


What is the Tor support portal and how will it be structured?

phoul: “The Tor Project has historically provided support through mailing lists, irc, and we also had a proper help-desk open for a period of time. Unfortunately, this help-desk became overloaded with support requests, which made us decide to put the effort into writing a proper support portal. Currently the community team is writing content for this portal, and working on the initial stages of design.

...the support portal is largely intended to be a resource for users. We will have a way for users to provide feedback, however a direct support function through the portal may not be a feature. We would likely have users contact an email address as a last resort, rather than having an interface on the portal for chat or similar.”

How can I get more involved in the Tor community?

The first steps to getting more involved in the Tor community include joining the Tor mailing list and stopping in at the weekly Tor community meeting which takes place (nearly) every Wednesday on IRC. Connect to the #tor-project channel on for more information.

Are there any more Tor AMAs coming up?

Tune into the #tor-project channel on for information on an /r/Tor ama that is under discussion

Localization and User Feedback:

What is the best way to contact the Tor Team about localization issues?

The best way to contact the Tor team about localization issues is by emailing the Localization Coordinator, Colin Childs (aka @phoul). Colin is also available for direct message in our Mattermost channel.

Why isn’t the Tor website translated?

The Tor team is currently in the process of updating the Tor website and creating a Tor support portal which will serve as a resource for Tor users (as opposed to the Q&A format of the Tor StackExchange) Once the website and the support portal are finished, they will be made available for translation.

Are there any languages that you constantly struggle to have updated translations for, but are in large demand?

phoul: “For languages, I dont think there is anything we are constantly in demand of and do not have. We are very lucky to have such a wide translator coverage on Transifex.”

Are there current plans to make usability updates to Tor?

Yes, and you can get involved by joining the Tor UX team which meets once a week on IRC.

In Tor development, how important is user feedback from around the globe, and more closed societies in particular? And how can individual users safely help provide the data and feedback you need to make the Tor Network work more effectively in their communities?

flexlibris: “user feedback is hugely important, especially from places where we don't have strong community representation yet.”

You can provide feedback by communicating with the Tor team on IRC ( at #tor, #tor-project, and #tor-dev) and by writing good tickets using the Tor Project’s bug tracker.

If you are from a closed society or a region facing severe censorship, it would be helpful for you to join the Tor community team to give ongoing feedback to Tor developers and help build Tor communities in your region.

Tor Censorship:

How is Tor being blocked in Egypt and elsewhere?

The Tor network is made up of about 7000 relays, run by volunteers around the world. If you can reach those relays, the Tor network aims to provide you security and privacy, but also alo you to circumvent censorship.

Simple censorship tools block the Tor website to keep you from downloading the Tor Browser and accessing the Tor network. If you already have the Tor Browser downloaded, this approach will not block your access to the Tor network.
More complex censorship tools try to block your access to the Tor network by blocking your connections to the 7,000 Tor relays. This can be done by blocking a list of all of the 7,000 relay addresses or by trying to block the Tor protocol and anyone who speaks it.

Even more dedicated censors do "deep packet inspection" (DPI), which recognizes Internet traffic by protocol and requires changing what the Tor network protocols look like. This is where "pluggable transports" come into play. Pluggable transports basically add another layer of encryption on top of your Tor traffic to disguise it and make it more difficult to block. The most common pluggable transport is currently “obfs4.”

While Egypt's censorship situation seems to change by the week, according to the OONI Project, DPI is being used.

How can I get around censorship of Tor in Egypt and elsewhere?

When relays are being blocked by address, Tor bridges can be used to access the Tor network. Bridges are like Tor relays, however they are not listed publically, so they are harder to block.

When opening the Tor Browser, you can choose to use one of the default bridges included in the Tor Browser or you can add custom bridges. Visit to access bridge addresses which can be added as custom bridges in the Tor Browser.

Apparently, the default obfs4 bridges available in the Tor Browser still work in Egypt.

Can Tor bridges be blocked?

The default bridges in Tor Browser can be blocked (roughly 30 addresses). This does not often happen however. Most often only the Tor website is blocked, and then less often, “Vanilla” Tor (Tor without bridges).

If “Vanilla” Tor is blocked, first try to use the default bridges provided in the Tor Browser. If those don't work, visit, get a few bridge addresses, and put them into the Tor Browser.

In Egypt, is censorship of the Tor website and network being done in a centralized manner or on the ISP level?
The seems the only thing universally blocked in Egypt is the Tor website. Otherwise it appears that censorship of the Tor network varies based on network and time period. Some users are able to access Vanilla Tor, while some are not.

It is possible that censorship is happening on the ISP level by government order, with each ISP using different censorship tools.

How hard would it be for Egypt to use the same DPI tools to start blocking obsf4-encrypted traffic?

arma: “actually, very few of the dpi tools can block obfs4. it's designed to be hard to recognize any headers in. so most of the censors around the world don't know how to recognize obfs4 traffic.”

Tor browser supports snowflake now. Will there be any new PT protocol like obfs5? obfs4 bridges might be blocked some day in country like China and meek is slow and expensive.

arma: “Snowflake is a great upcoming pluggable transport option. The snowflake developers seem to have slowed down though, so I don't know what their future plans are. It needs some more work to be more usable.

There are some known deficiencies in obfs4, and people have designs for an improved version. But right now nobody is developing it. There are some other groups out there, like brandon wiley, who are developing their own thing that we hope will be an improvement.”

Could Tor make it easier to use Tor Browser with circumvention tools like goagent and shadowsocks?

arma: “the tor browser people are wary of making it look like we 'endorse' one of these random third-party things

that said, i think looking at the usability side of things, and what can be changed in tor browser to make it easier for people to do it themselves, sounds really smart.”

Is it useful to run an entry node inside a country where Tor censorship occurs?

arma: “that's a complicated one. yes, in that more relays are good for building the capacity of the tor network. yes, in that maybe surveillance is only done at the country's borders, so it would be safer to use an entry node inside. no, in that maybe the surveillance is done throughout the country, in which case you're not buying yourself anything. in many countries, if they block the tor protocol well enough, running a relay inside that country will basically not work, since that relay can't reach enough other relays.

for example, a while ago mexico was blocking connections to the tor directory authorities. those are 9 or so relays that together tell the tor users what relays are available. that meant if you used a bridge, you were fine. but if you were a normal relay, and you tried to publish to the directory authorities so you'd be added to the network... your relay would be censored.”

Tor Project AMA!

This Friday, June 23rd at 15:00 UTC Localization Lab will be hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session with members of the Tor Project!

Dig deep and compile all of those questions you've been saving about how the Tor network works, what is happening when it doesn't work (thinking about recent events in Egypt), how you can get more involved in the project... And don't forget to bring any localization-related questions that you have to the table. This AMA is open to technical and less-technical alike, so don't feel like your questions may be too advanced or too simple. If time doesn't allow answering questions that are complex, there is always space to continue these discussions outside of the AMA.

The AMA will take place in the new Localization Lab Mattermost channel. The channel is being hosted by the Internet Freedom Festival, so if you have already registered with their Mattermost community, you simply need to join our channel.

Joining the Localization Lab Mattermost Channel:

  1. Select the following link:
  2. You will be required to provide and email address, a username and password. Select "Create Account."
  3. Once you have created your account, you will be able to access a list of channels in the left-hand task bar. Select "More..." and scroll down to find the "Localization Lab" channel. Select "Join."
  4. Take a look at the Internet Freedom Festival Code of Conduct. These guidelines will apply within the IFF channels and the Localization Lab channels to ensure that we have positive and inclusive communication.
  5. Lastly, feel free to introduce yourself to everyone in the Localization Lab channel and in the IFF Square.

Spanish Localization Sprint, June 15th - 17th in Colombia

Next week Localization Lab and Internews will be hosting a Spanish localization sprint in Colombia. Over the course of three days, an amazing community of Spanish-speaking digital security trainers and activists will be translating the LevelUp website and Security First's Umbrella App as well as discussing and working through the challenges of translating technical content.  Both LevelUp and Umbrella are invaluable resources for digital and physical security information as well as how to educate and train individuals in those areas.

What is LevelUp?
LevelUp is an online repository for resources for the global digital safety training community. Through the LevelUp website, you can access advice from fellow digital safety trainers and experienced facilitators, customize curriculum keyed to how adults learn, learn more from experts on the Psychology of Security Trainings and self-care (including how stress and trauma affect the ability to learn as well as train effectively), get ideas from icebreakers and activities to start your workshops and make them fun, check out guides on developing trainings and crafting agendas, and more. All made for trainers by their fellow trainers.

Learn more on the LevelUp website.

What is Umbrella App?
Umbrella is a free, open-source app for Android devices, developed by the Security First team. Umbrella brings together all the latest tools and advice on how to operate securely. Based on your level of ability, it offers simple, practical advice on what to do and what tools to use, reflecting your level of risk.

For more information, visit the Security First website. Download Umbrella on Google Play, through F-Droid or Amazon.

If you are interested in contributing remotely to the localization sprint, you can either sign up for the LevelUp and Umbrella App teams in Transifex or contact the Localization Lab team at for more information.

Call for IFF Localization Sprint Projects and Participants

Localization Lab is excited to announce that it will hosting another day-long Localization Sprint coinciding with the 2016 Internet Freedom Festival taking place in Valencia and we are currently looking for projects and their developers to participate in the event!

What is a Localization Sprint? A Localization Sprint is a day in which translators and developers sit side-by-side and work together to understand, translate and test internet freedom tools.

What is in it for you as a developer? As a participating developer, you will not only leave the sprint with a significant amount of your tools translated into several languages, but you will also gain insight into localization process from the perspective of translators, get valuable feedback from translators who in many cases are end users themselves, and get the opportunity to meet and build relationships with the passionate community that helps make your tools available world-wide.

Take a look at what was achieved at last year’s IFF Localization Sprint focusing on Globaleaks and the Tor Project here on the Localization Lab website:  Localization Sprint in Valencia

Who is an ideal candidate for participation?

  • You have an internet freedom tool that is ready to localize - either within the existing OTF Hub on Transifex, or outside using a different translation management tool.

  • You have at least one developer or localization project manager available to participate in the day-long event. 

  • You have a provoking narrative for translating your tool - organizations or end users have requested the tool be made available in their language or you have a strong use case for a particular region / language.

If you are interested in participating here is what we need from you :

  1. The name of your project / tool :

  2. Is your tool already in the OTF Hub in Transifex? :

  3. What are your language priorities? :

  4. Name(s) and contact information of Localization Sprint attendee(s) :

  5. Availability during IFF :

Please let us know if you are interested in participating and provide the above information by WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3RD. Submissions will be considered by the community and the tools that are included in the Localization Sprint will ultimately be decided collectively.

For those developers who may not be interested in participating in the Localization Sprint but are still interested in contributing to Localization Lab and OTF Hub activities, we will also be hosting a day-long Localization Summit that will bring together translators, developers and other community members to discuss localization related issues and challenges and how to tackle them in the year to come. We welcome all participation - the more the merrier - just let us know if you plan on attending so that we can plan accordingly.

2016 Localization Summit & Sprint Translator Applications -- DUE FRIDAY, JAN. 29TH

We are now accepting applications for those translators interested in attending this year's Localization Summit and Sprint, which will take place over the course of two days overlapping with the 2016 Internet Freedom Festival from March 1st - 6th in Valencia, Spain. The Localization Summit and Sprint provide a wonderful opportunity for you as a translator and contributor to the OTF Hub to meet and communicate face-to-face with the Localization Lab staff, your colleagues, and developers of the tools that you work tirelessly to make available to the global community. 

If you are interested in contributing to the the Localization SummitLocalization Sprintcommunity social events and any IFF events outside of the Localization Lab sponsored activities, please fill out and submit the following application. If you anticipate having financial or visa issues, please do not let that stop you from applying, however indicate any an all potential hurdles in the application itself.

Please submit your applications by FRIDAY, JAN. 29TH so that we can plan accordingly and properly allocate resources.

2016 Localization Summit and Sprint Application

*Please note that in addition to submitting the Localization Summit and Sprint Application, you will also need to register for the Internet Freedom Festival itself which you can do here.

Localization Lab at the Internet Freedom Festival in 2016

As many of you will have noted from recent posts, the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) is quickly approaching and for the second year in a row, Localization Lab will be hosting several exciting events over the course of the festival!

For those of you not familiar with IFF, it is a free event - taking place March 1 - 6 in Valencia, Spain - that "gathers the community keeping the Internet open and uncensored for a week of multidisciplinary collaboration." This involves community-led discussions and networking surrounding a wide array of internet freedom topics including...the localization of internet freedom tools.

IFF will be Localization Lab's largest public presence of the year where we will host a Localization Summit, a day in which community members come together to discuss the challenges that face the community as a whole, a Localization Sprint, where translators are able to work on the translation of select tools from the Hub in the same room as and with the support of the developers of those tools, a localization informational session and various informal networking and bonding opportunities for the community.

** We would love to have as much community participation and collaboration in the aforementioned events as possible and encourage anyone who is able to join us in Valencia and share in the activities. If you are planning on attending IFF and want to take part in any of the Localization Lab events, please let us know so that we can plan accordingly and make the most of your background and experience. **

If you have any questions about IFF or the Localization Lab events, please don't hesitate to ask Dragana or Erin, or refer to the ongoing planning discussions we will be having through the LocLab Google Group.

New LocLab Project: Net Aid Kit

We are excited to announce that NetAidKit has joined the Hub! Take a minute to learn about the project below from the project’s coordinator, Menso Heus, and join us in welcoming NetAidKit to the community!

Join the NetAidKit translation team on the project overview page :


Hello everyone! My name is Menso Heus and I’m the coordinator of the NetAidKit project. The NetAidKit is a pocket size, USB powered router that connects everything to everything, designed specifically for non-technical users. The easy to use web interface will allow you to connect the NetAidKit to a wireless or wired network and share that connection with your other devices, such as a phone, laptop or tablet.

Once the NetAidKit is connected to a wireless or wired network, you can make it connect to a Virtual Private Network or the anonymizing Tor network at the click of a button. Any devices connected to the NetAidKit will use these extra security features automatically, without needing to configure each of the devices separately. 

We’ve designed the product specifically for journalists and activists in repressive regimes and a lot of our target audience doesn’t speak English. That’s why we’re looking for help translating our interface in different languages and where hopefully you come in! The interface is quite minimal and so is the amount of words that need translating. I did the translation from English to Dutch and was done within an hour! It’d be great if you could help us out and I’d be more than willing to give translators credit on our website.

For more information about the NetAidKit, visit 

Hoping to collaborate with you all soon!