The State of Internet Censorship in Egypt

Date : Monday, 2 July, 2018
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Circumvention tool sites

A number of web proxies and circumvention tool sites were found to be blocked, making censorship circumvention harder in Egypt. The findings are summarized in the following table.

URLs Anomalies Amount of times tested
http://www.http-tunnel.com

187

393

https://ooni.torproject.org

168

184

https://explorer.ooni.torproject.org

168

190

http://www.hsselite.com

165

199

https://bridges.torproject.org

163

188

https://www.torproject.org

150

166

https://www.hotspotshield.com/

148

179

http://www.hotspotshield.com

147

179

https://www.thehiddenwiki.org

134

161

http://www.anonymsurfen.com

132

398

http://anonymizer.secuser.com

127

420

https://www.hotspotshield.com

121

162

http://www.zensur.freerk.com

119

382

http://www.xroxy.com

109

385

http://www.jmarshall.com/tools/cgiproxy/

107

387

http://www.suedeproxy.info

106

177

http://www.inetprivacy.com

106

397

http://www.ultimate-anonymity.com

104

380

http://www.stupidcensorship.com

101

385

http://www.webproxyfree.net

93

177

http://www.saoudiproxy.info

92

178

https://psiphon.ca/

86

189

https://www.anonymizer.com/

83

178

https://psiphon.ca

80

143

https://freenetproject.org/

79

190

http://www.vpnbook.com

76

178

http://www.unblockweb.co

76

165

http://www.proxy-list.org

76

187

http://www.hola.org

75

187

http://www.ninjaweb.xyz

75

163

http://www.anonymizer.com

74

166

http://www.unblockfreeproxy.com

72

165

http://www.orangeproxy.net

72

165

http://www.hidester.com

71

159

http://www.unblockytproxy.com

71

187

http://www.dolopo.net

71

182

http://www.freeproxyserver.co

71

162

http://www.northghost.com

71

174

http://www.cactusvpn.com

71

162

Many other circumvention tool sites also presented network anomalies as part of the testing, but we have limited the findings to those that presented the highest ratio of anomalies in comparison to the amount of times that they were tested throughout this study.

Popular censorship circumvention tools are among the blocked sites, such as torproject.org, hotspotshield.com and psiphon.ca. Subdomains of torproject.org – such as bridges.torproject.org and ooni.torproject.org – were blocked as well. Egyptian ISPs don’t appear to limit their blocking to censorship circumvention tool sites, since they also appear to block access to the Tor network as well.

Blocking of Tor

The Tor network offers online anonymity, privacy and censorship circumvention, and has therefore become a target of censorship by several governments around the world. In such countries, users can circumvent the blocking and connect to the Tor network through the use of Tor bridges. As part of this study, we analyzed network measurements collected from Egypt through the use of OONI’s Vanilla Tor and Bridge Reachability tests, which are designed to measure the blocking of the Tor network and the default bridges part of Tor Browser.

Most of the recent Vanilla Tor measurements have primarily been collected from two networks: Link Egypt (AS24863) and Telecom Egypt (AS8452). These measurements suggest that the Tor network is inaccessible, since the tests weren’t able to bootstrap connections to the Tor network within 300 seconds. In recent months, more than 460 measurements collected from these networks show connections to the Tor network consistently failing, strongly suggesting that access to it is blocked. Similarly, measurements collected from Etisalat Misr (AS36992), Mobinil (AS37069) and Vodafone (AS36935) indicate that access to the Tor network is blocked, since many attempted connections have been unsuccessful over the last year and a half. The Tor bootstrap process is likely being disrupted via the blocking of requests to directory authorities.

Few bridge reachability measurements have been collected from Egypt, limiting our ability to examine their potential blocking more extensively over time and across networks. These measurements were collected in June 2017 from the Telecom Egypt (AS8452) and Vodafone (AS36935) networks. Vodafone appears to be blocking obfs4 (shipped as part of Tor Browser), since all attempted connections were unsuccessful (though it remains unclear if private bridges work). All measurements collected from Telecom Egypt show that obfs4 works.

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