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Tor Audience in Belarus Rise after Blocking

13.12.2016 Source: Radio Svaboda, BAJ translation

Since early December, authorities in Belarus have blocked Tor – the program that enables anonymous access to websites including those that are blocked for some reasons by national operators. The Ministry of Communications explained that the sanction was aimed to prevent access to banned resources rather than to prevent anonymous access.

However, the blocking gave a contrary effect: before the blocking, there were 5000 users of Tor in Belarus; since December, the number of direct users dropped to 3000, but the number of users connecting to Tor through Bridges changed from several hundreds to 3000 at peak time. Thus, the audience rose to 6000 users.

The number of Tor users is not stable, for example, there were 10 thousand users in August – September 2013 and the same number kept in 2015.

 

In countries with population comparable to Belarus, there are quite different numbers of Tor users: there are 20 thousand users in Sweden, 15 thousand in Austria, 10.5 thousand in the Czech Republic, 6 – 7 thousand in Bulgaria, 15 thousand in Switzerland (with sharp rises to 50 thousand), 10 thousand in Israel (with up to 50 thousand from time to time), less than a thousand in Honduras, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

In all, around two million people use Tor, with a jump of 6 million in 2013, and around 50 thousand people use Tor via Bridges.

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