Who Uses Tor in Not-Free Countries
Freedom House evaluated 65 of the world’s 195 countries for the extent of their Internet freedom. Of the countries they looked at, 21 scored as “not free,” 29 as “partly free,” and 15 as more or less “free.”
From the Tor metrics site, here are the numbers of Tor users in each of the not-free countries, divided into bridge users and directly connecting users. Note that the number of users is estimated rather than measured. It is calculated by taking daily directory requests from each country and dividing by 10.
|United Arab Emirates||obfs4||300||3,000|
- The Freedom House universe of 65 countries did not include North Korea or Turkmenistan, both of which severely restrict access to the Internet.
- Numbers have been rounded. The number 10 is a stand-in for “very few.”
- Not-free countries often turn out to be Islamist dictatorships or Communist dictatorships.
- The China numbers don’t look right. It is widely believed that the GFW prevents direct connections to Tor from China. We would expect zero direct users / day.
- If the metrics numbers are right, bridges are not necessary as often as you might think. Even in not-free countries, people appear to frequently connect directly.
- The numbers tell us nothing about netizens’ motivation for using Tor. Not all are evading political censorship. For example, Russia is a major user of Tor, but Proekt estimated that Hydra accounts for 393,000 active users.
- According to a post on Reddit, simply using Tor may by itself be illegal in several of these countries.