Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

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Artemis3
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Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

Unread postby Artemis3 » Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 05:25

Yesterday I learned about CloudFlare's public DNS service and a new optional http header feature supported in Firefox, called "Alt-Svc" which allows a web page to tell the browser that its also available in an alternative network, such as Tor .onion address.

Being an interesting feature, I wondered if the Palemoon crew had any knowledge about it, so i asked in IRC. To my surprise, Tobin reaction was to label the feature "a pedo tool", disregarding completely the situation in oppressed countries and basic human rights, condemning people to censorship and imprisonment for voicing their own opinion, and like those regimes, proceeded to censor me as well by removing me from channel for daring to ask such a question.

Since Tobin believes only "pedos" would be interested in such a feature, instead of a simple "yes or no", I am forced to believe this and related projects are pro censorship and from now on will stay away and recommend people to stay away from both Palemoon and Basilisk or anything else where this person is involved.

Furthermore from now on I will recommend people to help and contribute to another Firefox fork called the Tor-browser, which comes with Tor built in.

As I told him on IRC; I hope he is never caught in a situation where he goes to one of those countries, and finds not only he can't browse any of the web pages he normally would (say, news media like CNN), but that he is also not imprisoned for years without seeing a lawyer; like the American Josh Holt who was just recently released from being held hostage in foreign soil in inhumane conditions only after President Trump intervened.

Because only "pedos" would need Tor, and censorship and innocent imprisonment does not exist in the world...
I have to say goodbye.

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Re: Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

Unread postby Latitude » Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 05:40

Gee, Artemis.

So, do you want to ban yourself from using commercial airplanes because they're using jet engines that originally developed by the Nazis?

This is classic example of "genetic fallacy" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_fallacy).
Last edited by Latitude on Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 05:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

Unread postby Moonchild » Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 09:46

To put things in perspective: I was part of this discussion on IRC (albeit mostly in a listening fashion).
What was brought up -specifically- was the fact that an alternative service was being discussed on a .onion address, which almost immediately spiraled into the legitimacy of TOR use. Tobin is correct that 90% (as a conservative figure) of the TOR network is used for illegal activities and things bordering on "darknet" content, including pedophile, drug-related, crime-related, pirating, spam and other unsavory activities. Everyone is aware that TOR -can- be used for legitimate reasons, but more often than not isn't. As an example I just have to pull up this forum's log to see any number of attempts of bots through the tor network to spam or troll "anonymously" on the forum. It regularly overshadows normal forum traffic, despite the fact that I've hammered this shut and those activities won't go anywhere but the TOR-specific denial page.
Artemis was upset because Tobin didn't think too much of the idea of having Alt-Svc available to advertise TOR services. Probably an overreaction on both sides, but not without precedent.

I personally don't like Alt-Svc either, albeit for different reasons, mostly the user's safety and danger for abuse that is, in fact, opening up new ways of censorship.
For those unfamiliar with RFC 7838: what the Alt-Svc header does is prefer an alternative host/protocol for the URL you are visiting, and without actually telling the user, getting the requested URL's resources from the alternative service location.
This was mainly implemented at Mozilla to offer "opportunistic encryption" by having an Alt-Svc header point to https:// versions of the URL visited, but the feature allows much more rigorous redirecting to completely different servers/protocols (as the TOR redirect underlines) that remains hidden from the end-user.
There is a very large potential for abuse here. Take for example a government wanting to censor its citizens? Just inject an Alt-Svc header and people looking up "disallowed" pages can simply be redirected to different content without them realizing it (the address will still be the same). This can even include https and other authenticated protocols if the correct certificate is presented. The RFC is explicitly clear that this redirection must not be visible to the application above the network layer and thus the user.

As a note: Alt-Svc is already present and available in Pale Moon, but disabled by default. Artemis could have known this if he had actually examined the browser instead of making a point on IRC and blowing up when Tobin underlined the most common use of TOR. In UXP (Basilisk/PM28) it will be enabled by default, but I have the stance that if abuse of this becomes an apparent problem in the wild, the default will be set back to "disabled" to keep our users safe from hidden misdirection by malicious elements.

PS: What happens on IRC is best solved on IRC. It's rather low to post on this forum after a disagreement on IRC when you know that the other party is not able to reply to you here. In addition, your topic title had very little to do with what was discussed which was an HTTP header, not Tobin's personal views on human rights, that was all YOU spinning your wheels, artemis.
Last edited by Moonchild on Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 14:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

Unread postby yami_ » Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 09:56

Artemis3 wrote:new optional http header feature supported in Firefox, called "Alt-Svc" which allows a web page to tell the browser that its also available in an alternative network, such as Tor .onion address.

Seems like you were misled:
"new optional http header" - first draft published in 2014, proposed as standard in 2016 as RFC 7838. Does not look like new for me.
"supported in Firefox" - also in Pale Moon. I think Chromium also supports this spec.
"which allows a web page to tell the browser that its also available in an alternative network, such as Tor .onion address" - RFC 7838 disagree:
RCF 7838 autors wrote:

Code: Select all

This document specifies "Alternative Services" for HTTP, which allow
an origin's resources to be authoritatively available at a separate
network location, possibly accessed with a different protocol
configuration.

[...]

Code: Select all

By their nature, alternative services are explicitly at the
granularity of an origin; they cannot be selectively applied to
resources within an origin.

[...]

Code: Select all

Therefore, if a client supporting this specification becomes aware of
an alternative service, the client SHOULD use that alternative
service for all requests to the associated origin as soon as it is
available, provided the alternative service information is fresh
(Section 2.2) and the security properties of the alternative service
protocol are desirable, as compared to the existing connection. A
viable alternative service is then treated in every way as the
origin; this includes the ability to advertise alternative services.


  • This specification applies not only to web sites.
  • Client can not selectively choose from where it loads resources.
  • If an alternative service header is present, client should use this the alternative service and not origin for all requests to the origin.
Alt-Svc header is not a way to advertize a TOR .onion address, it is a way to tell client to use another server than the one that was originally specified.

Edit: Well, looks like Moonchild was faster...
Last edited by yami_ on Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 09:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

Unread postby Moonchild » Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 10:08

Latitude wrote:This is classic example of "genetic fallacy" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_fallacy).

I think this post is more likely to be classified as "Bulverism" (I hope I spelled that right, been a while since I had classes in such things)
Last edited by Moonchild on Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 10:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

Unread postby Moonchild » Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 10:24

yami_ wrote:Edit: Well, looks like Moonchild was faster...

Doesn't really matter -- both our posts contribute to the same point in different ways :)
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Re: Tobin posture about censorship and basic human rights

Unread postby yami_ » Fri, 15 Jun 2018, 10:48

Moonchild wrote:Doesn't really matter -- both our posts contribute to the same point in different ways :)

I know :).
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