Session: Usability for Tor Browser Security Slider (Linda and intrigeri)

Two main problems with the security slider:

  • Problem 1: the settings are global (i.e. you can't set it specifically for certain websites) and hard to access (it's burdensome to change it to high/low for specific websites).
  • Problem 2: people don't know what was blocked on purpose. (the things that are blocked or "broken" by the security slider do not indicate that they were blocked on purpose)


  • Solution 1.1: make the slider on the web address bar (or somewhere else) so that people can easily toggle it as they go to website. Need to make room on the address bar, which may require changes to firefox. It's hugely difficult technically to have 3 different types in 3 different settings concurrently with the mechanism that we have.
  • Solution 1.2: a whitelist of sites, or a list of sites and mapping to security settings. This can be done easily and would allow for different tabs in different security settings, but this list of websites to settings might be fingerprintable. we would also keep track of users by which websites they visit. We could let users choose their own websites and settings (which would mean a form of history stored for them), or choose a whitelist that people can opt into (everyone would look the same, then).
  • Solution 2.1: make a dummy website that shows a sample site on the various security settings to educate users. Need to build a website and learn how to educate people properly. We would need to identify what is the most common things that are broken by tor settings.
  • Solution 2.2: add indicators to things that are blocked by the slider. the slider doesn't block anything directly, but just sets settings that does (like make NoScript do it for us)… so additional logic to detect when things are blocked because of the settings.

Some things we could do next:

  • make a UI change to put the slider in a place that is easy to find, and make the preferences global but easy to toggle.
  • pick an easy Firefox pref that is affected by a security slider setting, detect what things that breaks, and choose to give feedback to the users.
  • find out which pref, when disabled, breaks the most things that people care about.

UX things to think about:

  • would people be okay with us keeping a list of websites they visit and trust (i.e. websites on low)?
  • would people want to use a security slider every singe time they go to a website and toggle it?
  • who uses the security slider? Does the regular, non-technical population even want to use it? Maybe they don't!
  • if we were to have the global slider, where should we put it/what should we do to indicate that it affects all tabs?
  • when should we reload the tabs when the slider changes? (reload all pages when the settings change, on next click, etc.?)
  • should there be a default setting, and a button that makes a temporary change in settings? or a slider that changes the settings until you next toggle the slider?
  • should we have only two settings instead of three? some people are still confused.

Next step: Linda and the Tor Browser team to meet to talk about which of the possible improvements we should experiment with first.

See also:

Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on Mar 29, 2017, 3:07:26 PM