Reproducibility, sharing, and data sensitivity
What made this particular work different was that the packets we captured came through a Tor node. Because of this difference, we took extreme caution in managing these traces and have not and will not plan to share them with other researchers.
Response to Tor Study
I won’t get into parsing what “have not and will not plan to share” means, and will simply assume it means “haven’t shared, and will not share”. So, what we have here are data that are not personally identifying, but are sensitive enough that they cannot be shared, ever, with any other researchers.
What is it about the traces that makes them sensitive, then?
Given this policy, how can this work be replicated? How can it be checked for error, if the data are not shared with anyone?
Bonus rant, unrelated to the Tor paper
I am growing increasingly perturbed at the hoarding of data by those who, as scientific researchers, are presumably interested in the free flow of information and the increase of knowledge for the betterment of humanity.
Undoubtedly not all keep this information to themselves out of a base motive such as cranking out as many papers as possible before giving anyone else (especially anyone who might be gunning for that same tenure-track position) a shot, but others who play this game no doubt are. It’s unseemly and ultimately counterproductive.
It’s funny — the infosec community just went through an episode where a respected researcher said, in effect, “trust me — I found something important, but I can’t give you the information to verify my claim, lest it be misused by others less noble than we”, and various luminaries took it to be a sign of lingering institutional immaturity. Perhaps, as EE/CS becomes increasingly cross-pollinated with the likes of sociology, psychology, law and economics the same observation will hold. If so, we should see it coming and do the right things. This is one they teach in pre-school: “Sharing is Caring”.
As an example of what could be done, consider this and this.