Re: [Tails-project] [Tails-ux] Give Tails users an alternati…

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Author: sajolida
To: Public mailing list about the Tails project
Subject: Re: [Tails-project] [Tails-ux] Give Tails users an alternative to Tor network
> Life's never been easy for the Tor Project, and it seems that both
> political pressure and uninformed bias against the project continues
> to increase. One result of this is that Tails users often encounter
> sites and services that refuse connections from Tor exit nodes. This
> problem has impacted me to the point that I've had to abandon TailOS
> as my default daily OS.

Thanks for sharing your experience and starting this discussion!

I'm moving this to tails-project@ because it's a much wider discussion.

Our doc says that:

« We want to enforce good security by default for our users. That is why
it is a fundamental assumption of Tails to force all outgoing traffic
to anonymity networks such as Tor. »

« It is fundamental to Tails that all outgoing traffic be forced through
Tor. We have no plans to make it possible to use a VPN instead of Tor
in the future. »

So, as a starting point, changing any of this will not happen overnight
but would likely take years. But I do agree that it's an important
discussion to have (and we probably won't reach strong conclusions only
on mailing lists). It will also require major engineering work and our
development capacity is still super limited (otherwise Tails would
improve much faster).

For the record, these UX issues are being discussed internally at Tor and
Tor could end up exploring quite radical changes to solve them. Tor is
not in a great shape right now and I would also expect any of this to
take several years to happen:

Tails is lucky to be in a better position than Tor in this regard as it
has the possibility of offering VPNs as an alternative.

For the record, the fact that Tor is painful for browsing the web was in
the top 5 changes that people asked for in the survey that I did in

In these results, I'm assuming somehow boldly that people who asked for
VPNs were complaining about Tor being painful for browsing the web.
It might not be their only reason but I guess that it's their main reason.

To put all this in perspective, Tor usage in Hong Kong has been pretty
much stagnant over the past years:

While VPN usage has been skyrocketing:

Though I would take these self-reported data from Atlas VPN with a grain
of salt.

Blaming the user for the understanding that VPNs are not as secure as Tor
or for not coping with the extra pain of using Tor is not the solution.
Blaming the user is never the solution actually. And unfortunately, we
can't fix Tor from Tails.

In terms of personas:

* Riou might do well with a VPN for censorship circumvention.

I'm told that people in Iran rely heavily on VPNs for accessing
Facebook and Google.

Riou also tries to hide their identity and might get jailed if their
VPN collaborates with or gets hacked by their government. So there's
clearly a critical and complicated trade-off here.

* Cris could get killed if her VPN collaborates with or gets hacks by her

But she currently lacks better communication tools in Tails (for
example Signal) so she might already been relying on unencrypted
communication tools (email, Facebook, etc.) that could get her in
trouble just as much.

* Kim would be just as fine with a VPN.

Both Riou and Cris would be better protected from physical repression
using Tails with a VPN than giving up on Tails entirely because browsing
the web with Tor is too much of a pain.

> IMHO, unsafe browser should not be included in TailsOS.

The Unsafe Browser is meant as a tool to connect to captive portals:

We will need something like this anyway but have plans to improve this
and hopefully provide something better than the Unsafe Browser for that.

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