As the Internet is increasingly absorbing information from the real world it becomes more important to prevent unauthorized collection and abuse of personalized information. At the same time, democratic societies should establish an environment helping not only their own people but also people who face repressive censorship to access public information without being identified or traced. Internet anonymization tools such as Tor offer functionalities to meet this demand. In practice, anonymization of Internet access can only be achieved by accepting higher latency, i.e., a longer waiting time before a Web site is displayed in the browser, and therefore reducing its usability significantly. Since many users may not be willing to accept this loss of usability, they may refrain from or stop using Tor – at the same time decreasing the anonymity of other users, which depends on shared resources in the Tor user community. In this paper1, we quantify the loss of usability by measuring the additional latency of the Tor software and combine our measurements with metrics of the existing Web usability and performance literature. Our findings indicate that there is still a major usability gap induced by Tor, leading to its possible disuse accompanied by a higher risk exposure of Internet users.
Fabian, Benjamin; Goertz, Florian; Kunz, Steffen; Müller, Sebastian; and Nitzsche, Mathias, "Privately Waiting – A Usability Analysis of the Tor Anonymity Network" (2010). AMCIS 2010 Proceedings. 258.