By Georgia Fragkouli
Can we improve Internet transparency without worsening user anonymity? For a long time, researchers have been proposing transparency systems, where traffic reports produced at strategic network points help assess network behavior and verify service-level agreements or neutrality compliance. However, such reports necessarily reveal when certain traffic appeared at a certain network point, and this information could, in principle, be used to compromise low-latency anonymity networks like Tor. In this paper, we examine whether more Internet transparency necessarily means less anonymity. We start from the information that a basic transparency solution would publish about a network and study how that would impact the anonymity of the network’s users. Then we study how to change, in real time, the time granularity of traffic reports in order to preserve both user anonymity and report utility. We evaluate with real and synthetic data and show that our algorithm can offer a good anonymity/utility balance, even in adversarial scenarios where aggregates consist of very few flows.