Over recent weeks there has been a great harrumphing of editorials about how the usual internet bogeymen (pedophiles, drug runners, terrorists and alleged assassins) have been utilizing Tor to carry on their business away from the prying eyes of law enforcement agencies. This has recently been brought to a head with the arrest of Eric Eoin Marques the owner/operator of “Freedom Hosting” in Ireland, the main provider of Tor hosting services.
The captured servers were operated by law enforcement officials for an unknown period of time to capture information on who the site owners were and who the main users were, the primary target was the Silk Road online drugs marketplace, for which arrests are ongoing.
The surprising thing about Tor is that it was originally a product of the US Defense Research Agency DARPA (where much of the technology of the internet originated) to allow anonymous communications over the internet. To this day it is still supported by the US and Swedish governments, where 80% of funding for the Tor project comes from. This is despite Tor being classified by the NSA as “the King of high secure, low latency Internet anonymity” in a recent Guardian article on the subject (Link).
For myself, I utilize Tor, not for anonymity, but to access websites that the government or my ISP deems unsuitable for my delicate tastes, this is not just a problem in Malaysia, but also the UK where the High Court has created an effective blacklist, enforced by ISP’s blocking access to sites such as The Pirate Bay.
Given the increasing censorship around the world, having Tor as a means of bypassing such totalitarian controls is a useful tool. I wonder how long it will be before the Tor download site itself is blocked.
Carpe diem ladies and gents.
Eli the Computer – Introduction to Tor