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Snowflakes against Censorship

I assume you have basic knowledge about the tor network

Snowflake is a system developed by the tor project, to circumvent censorship of its network. What you see below is an iframe embed of the official implementation. If you want, you can enable it and maybe help someone access the free and open internet.

How does it work?

As you might know, Tor enables you to access the web anonymously by proxying your encrypted request through multiple relays placed all over the world. But what if, for example, the country you are living in is censoring your internet access? “A list” of all the relays has to be publicly available so that client’s know with whom to connect. Obviously those countries are controlling the ISP’s and just block these IP Addresses.

That is where bridges come in to place. A bridge is basically just another Proxy and also run by volunteers. But how does “adding another proxy” solve the issue? Bridges are far more lightweight and thus more people can host their own, or they can even be hosted fairly cheap on platforms like AWS, GCP or Azure. And by doing that, the country has to decide to either block all access to important Datacenters by those big-tech corporations, which also host other things — or let the traffic slip through.

The tor developers came up with a System of so-called “pluggable transports”, a system to add multiple different bridges that work completely different, but still use a standardized API. Thus, there are multiple kinds of bridges, the older heavy weights like obfs4 or Snowflake.

Snowflake relies even more on volunteers, since it works by transforming your browser to such a proxy. It is using WebRTC under the hood to establish fast & low latency connections to the client and entry relay. And the more people that are enabling Snowflake, the more distributed the network gets and thus hardens it against censorship. Of course your IP can still be blocked, but as a consumer your IP Address isn’t static and changes occasionally, rendering IP range blocking useless.

Why should you care?

As the traffic that flows through your Browser is encrypted anyway, and you are multiple steps behind the exit-node, you don’t have to worry about anything happening to you, regardless of what the Client is requesting through your Bridge.

So, as long as your internet access isn’t restricted, and you don’t have a limited data plan, you should install Snowflake and help the one’s that aren’t as lucky as you and me.

Modern browsers don’t execute JS of non-active tabs all the time, which is why you need to install it as an extension (or set it up independently of a browser):

Firefox Extension Chromium Extension

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