Internet censorship, slowdowns, and complete cuts are an increasingly common risk, particularly around critical moments like elections. But how do you know if your connection is bad or the whole internet has been shut down? Ooni was developed by human rights technologists to collectively monitor and document censorship.
The Ooni app is great for anyone who wants to be able to detect the various forms of censorship and internet controls that governments or internet service providers may put in the way. This can be particularly useful for organizations working in the human rights and democracy space, permitting average citizens to contribute to a holistic understanding of digital repression.
Ooni is both a global project of the technology and rights community and a set of tools that you can run on your phone or computer. The data is aggregated on their website, letting interested people look for trends in their country or around the world.
The app itself runs on Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS, and is easily downloadable from the website or the relevant app stores.
Ooni runs a wide array of tests from your device, letting you determine which websites, instant messaging apps, and circumvention tools are accessible from your network, as well as calculating network speed.
Ooni is free to download and run. As a community-supported project, they welcome donations.
Running the Ooni app is very straightforward, requiring no configuration or creation of accounts. More sophisticated users can create their own test lists if desired.
As with all apps, Ooni should be updated routinely to keep current not only with security patches but regularly updated testing suites of internet probes.
Running the Ooni software causes your device to connect to a large number of sites that are likely to be blocked. In certain repressive environments, this could itself draw attention to your device and then to you. See their FAQ for more information: https://ooni.org/support/faq/#what-are-the-risks-of-running-ooni-probe