|Murdoch, Steven J.|
University College London
The utility of anonymous communication is undermined by a growing number of websites treating users of such services in a degraded fashion. The second-class treatment of anonymous users ranges from outright rejection to limiting their access to a subset of the service?s functionality or imposing hurdles such as CAPTCHA-solving. To date, the observation of such practices has relied upon anecdotal reports catalogued by frustrated anonymity users. We present a study to methodically enumerate and characterize, in the context of Tor, the treatment of anonymous users as second-class Web citizens.
We focus on first-line blocking: at the transport layer, through reset or dropped connections; and at the application layer, through explicit blocks served from website home pages. Our study draws upon several data sources: comparisons of Internet-wide port scans from Tor exit nodes versus from control hosts; scans of the home pages of top-1,000 Alexa websites through every Tor exit; and analysis of nearly a year of historic HTTP crawls from Tor network and control hosts. We develop a methodology to distinguish censorship events from incidental failures such as those caused by packet loss or network outages, and incorporate consideration of the endemic churn in web-accessible services over both time and geographic diversity. We find clear evidence of Tor blocking on the Web, including 3.67% of the top-1,000 Alexa sites. Some blocks specifically target Tor, while others result from fate-sharing when abuse-based automated blockers trigger due to misbehaving Web sessions sharing the same exit node.
Data from Internet-wide scans to quantify the extent of differential treatment of anonymous Internet users. The data accompanies the paper "Do You See What I See: Differential Treatment of Anonymous Users" published at the 2016 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium
Internet measurement; censorship; anonymity; security; privacy
A portion of the dataset can be accessed here. For the full data set, please contact the author