“The United States government can’t simply run an anonymity system for everybody and then use it themselves only. Because then every time a connection came from it people would say, “Oh, it’s another CIA agent.” If those are the only people using the network.”
—Roger Dingledine, co-founder of the Tor Network, 2004
In early July, hacker Jacob Applebaum and two other security experts published a blockbuster story in conjunction with the German press. They had obtained leaked top secret NSA documents and source code showing that the surveillance agency had targeted and potentially penetrated the Tor Network, a widely used privacy tool considered to be the holy grail of online anonymity.
Internet privacy activists and organizations reacted to the news with shock. For the past decade, they had been promoting Tor as a scrappy but extremely effective grassroots technology that can protect journalists, dissidents and whistleblowers from powerful government forces that want to track their every move online. It was supposed to be the best tool out there. Tor’s been an integral part of EFF’s “Surveillance Self-Defense” privacy toolkit. Edward Snowden is apparently a big fan, and so is Glenn Greenwald, who says it “allows people to surf without governments or secret services being able to monitor them.”
But the German exposé showed Tor providing the opposite of anonymity: it singled out users for total NSA surveillance, potentially sucking up and recording everything they did online.
To many in the privacy community, the NSA’s attack on Tor was tantamount to high treason: a fascist violation of a fundamental and sacred human right to privacy and free speech.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes Tor to be “essential to freedom of expression.” Applebaum — a Wikileaks volunteer and Tor developer — considers volunteering for Tor to be a valiant act on par with Hemingway or Orwell “going to Spain to fight the Franco fascists” on the side of anarchist revolutionaries.
It’s a nice story, pitting scrappy techno-anarchists against the all-powerful US Imperial machine. But the facts about Tor are not as clear cut or simple as these folks make them out to be…
Let’s start with the basics: Tor was developed, built and financed by the US military-surveillance complex. Tor’s original — and current — purpose is to cloak the online identity of government agents and informants while they are in the field: gathering intelligence, setting up sting operations, giving human intelligence assets a way to report back to their handlers — that kind of thing. This information is out there, but it’s not very well known, and it’s certainly not emphasized by those who promote it.
Peek under Tor’s hood, and you quickly just realize that just everybody involved in developing Tor technology has been and/or still is funded by the Pentagon or related arm of the US empire. That includes Roger Dingledine, who brought the technology to life under a series of military and federal government contracts. Dingledine even spent a summer working at the NSA.
If you read the fine print on Tor’s website, you’ll see that Tor is still very much in active use by the US government:
“A branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently. Law enforcement uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs, and for security during sting operations.”
NSA? DoD? U.S. Navy? Police surveillance? What the hell is going on? How is it possible that a privacy tool was created by the same military and intelligence agencies that it’s supposed to guard us against? Is it a ruse? A sham? A honeytrap? Maybe I’m just being too paranoid…
Unfortunately, this is not a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory. It is cold hard fact.
More Here: http://pando.com/2014/07/16/tor-spooks/
This sounds like a fair treatment to a non-technical person. It's not. The internet was created by DARPA - does that mean we can't use it for different reasons? TOR is an open-source, anonymizing "onion router". It works by passing network packets thru repeated layers where each layer only knows the last and next layer. That means there is no hidden exploit that can be used by the bad guys to spy on you. Unfortunately there is no "reputation" system built into it, and as the feds have proven, it can be gamed so that if enough of the layers are owned by Fed's , they CAN track packets back to their origin. So TOR still works for the spooks but not for us. By contrast, I run Linux everywhere with the "SELinux" layer enabled - another OS level of enhanced security developed by the NSA but released to the open-source community. I have complete confidence that the source code had been thoroughly vetted by the community.
Aaahhh.... Thanks truth!
Sorry Tara, I was attempting a hijack of your article, unknown to me at the time, and the mighty truth came out. He pointed me towards your post.
Thanks You two..!
I just really hope we can be LOUD enough to get this concept through to the people. Especially since things are heating up and I regularly see people running java on the onions'(?) hidden services... All that anonymousness, just to hand over everything at the end of the line...
Its LIKE digital death in a way, in reality like the creeping death of our liberty that seems inevitable... SO friggin' sad! Yup, you guessed it: I'm a patriotic techno gen.X geek that is washed with many waters... and allergic to bullshit.
Deep down somewhere, I believe there is a chance to maintain our FOREFATHER given rights (There were no women involved, that time around..Sorry Girls..) but the stupidity of US (-.-.) collectively is gnawing on our liberty and making me question my sanity...
Liberty or death! Seeking one will inevitably lead to the other in todays reality..
It's alright... no worries here. 12160 just turned 7 years old in Dec and we have a plethora of info/posts that have multiplied over the years. So... it is inevitable that members post the same info/posts from time to time. It's all good.
Yes Tara, the information in your post is why I quit using the Tor browser. Recently 'Suebian' shared the site "http://www.onion-router.net/Publications/JCS-1997.pdf" which is , in part, 13 pages of how the problem of privacy was well known in 1997 (ya know 'Windows 3.1' and dial up only service). It seems privacy is the golden apple the PTB must have. It is the holy of holys to the owners of the money power.