Mobile Users in the OnionVerse

Why and how a user of an app might benefit from Tor integration

User personas are a key component of Tor's human-centered design process. They help foster empathy by encouraging our developers to better understand the motivations, pain points and goals of our users. The first generation of Tor personas were created following a series of field studies in the Global South from 2018 to 2019, where we were fortunate to meet many different kinds of Tor users – including activists, journalists and other human rights defenders. You can view them all on the Tor Persona User Research page.

Below are some additional lightweight, mobile centric user stories that can also help consider the types of users who may benefit from Tor support being built into your app.

User Needs to Use App in a Place Where It May Be Blocked

Imagine a user, Alex, a journalist working in a region with strict internet censorship. Alex needs to access vital information and communicate with their team using a specific app. However, in the region where Alex is stationed, this app is blocked by the government. Alex relies on this app for up-to-date information and coordination with their team. The ability to use the app in such a restrictive environment is crucial for Alex to perform their job effectively and safely. They need a solution that allows them to bypass these blockages without drawing attention to their activities, ensuring they can access the necessary information and maintain communication with their colleagues.

User Wants to Share Data Privately and Directly

Consider Sarah, a human rights activist, who needs to share sensitive documents with her network. These documents contain critical evidence of human rights violations, and it is imperative that this exchange remains confidential and direct, without any third-party interception. Sarah is aware of the risks involved in digital communication and seeks a way to share these files securely. She needs a method that ensures end-to-end encryption, where only the intended recipient can access the data. The solution must be reliable and straightforward, as some of her colleagues are not tech-savvy. The ability to share these sensitive documents safely can have significant implications for her cause.

User Wants to Search or Browse Data Without It Being Linked to Their IP Address

Envision Tom, a researcher who frequently needs to access various online resources for his work. However, Tom is concerned about privacy and does not want his searches and browsing history to be tracked or linked to his IP address. He is wary of surveillance and data collection practices that could compromise his anonymity and the confidentiality of his research. Tom seeks a solution that allows him to browse the internet freely, without leaving a digital footprint that could be traced back to him. This capability is not just a matter of privacy but also a professional necessity to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of his research work.

In each of these scenarios, the users face distinct challenges that necessitate robust, privacy-focused solutions. Whether it's bypassing censorship, secure data sharing, or anonymous browsing, each scenario underscores the importance of having access to tools and technologies that protect digital privacy and ensure secure communication.

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