Tor: Freedom for whom?

By | June 27, 2006

Tor is a system designed to anonymise Internet connections for users concerned about their privacy. It´s free, it´s simple, it´s effective — and it facilitates troublemaking. Proponents of Tor recommend reading renowned security expert Bruce Schneier´s article on the value of privacy. Schneier makes a compelling argument in favour of the value of privacy. But use of Tor isn´t just about privacy.

There are, fundamentally, two forms of freedom. There is the freedom “to,” and the freedom “from.” There is also the balance of freedoms: how one person´s freedoms affect another´s. Services like Tor address both the freedom “to” and the freedom “from,” but deprive others of both freedom “to” and freedom “from.”

Tor works by routing a user´s Internet connection through a long and wholly undocumented and unlogged list of participating hosts. Theoretically, it is impossible to trace a connection back to its origin through this system. With the lack of logging, the only practical way is to monitor participating hosts and try and figure out who is doing what. The result is that anyone who uses Tor is anonymous to anyone whose services he is using. This provides the Tor user the freedom to privacy, and complete freedom from being identified.Read Full Story

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