"The person who raped and killed my seven year old child was able to sell videos of it online but I know that&;s a small price to pay if it means Al-Qaeda members fighting the Assad regime in Syria are able to post Tweets."
- No One, EverTaking note of to Yasha Levine&;s I wanted to see if the criticisms had any merit. Levine didn&;t simply report that Tor is funded by the U.S. government or that the project was originally started by the U.S. Navy. He reported about the reason the U.S. government turned the project over to the public: in order for U.S. agents to be able to use Tor effectively they need a virtual army of volunteers to also run Tor nodes so they can use those to mask their own activity.Not only are some of ;s most vocal supporters paid to work on the project by the DoD but invariably they are also harsh critics of the U.S. government&;s military and intelligence agencies. ;s reporting made it clear it&;s quite hypocritical for people to portray themselves as .
It&;s mind-boggling but seemingly no one had called them on it until now.What we are supposed to believe is that the Tor project in its current form is simply a happy accident. Sure, it was started by the military and is still funded by the State and Defense departments, but these civil libertarian cyber activists have cleverly used the government&;s need against them. The reason they do this is because they want to help political dissidents in Iran and Syria, and journalists at home, not
because they receive fat paychecks from the Pentagon.Even if you&;re dumb enough to believe that, or simply apathetic enough not to care, there is still a larger issue regarding Tor: it&;s tailor made for criminal activity.
Kiddie porn. Black market selling of drugs, weapons, human slaves? Hiring hitmen. Organizing terrorism. Releasing computer viruses. You think of a crime and Tor can probably help you get away with it.Often when someone talks about Edward Snowden they say his leaks are important because they about our government&;s online surveillance. Well what does that mean, to start a debate? A concluded that the general population has little impact on policy. So even if 90% of the population agrees on something we are still powerless to &;start a debate&; about it.
Starting a debate means causing enough to go on TV or write in the New York Times so that law makers take notice and perhaps policy is changed. Again, the general population can&;t do this. Our opinions are just ignored. Edward Snowden on the other hand, by betraying his country, has been able to single-handedly &;start a debate.&; The problem with this is it&;s a debate that to start debates want. Snowden&;s debate is not an anomaly.
For an example take the Iraq War. It was decided we were going to invade Iraq for no good reason. The job then became to convince the public this is what they wanted. Indeed by the time of the invasion the majority of Americans thought it was a good idea."Starting a debate" means smart guys decide policy and then to support their decision. It&;s not hard to see what&;s wrong with this system. Often the are guided by self-interests rather than the interests of the nation or the world.Another example is the Tor project.Is there a debate about whether or not it&;s a good idea to use tax payer money to develop a technology that will allow people to hide their online activity? No, there is not.
In fact I reviewed over three years worth of articles in the New York Times to see if I could find any sign of such a debate regarding Tor. This single sentence found in a was the only thing that came close:
Criminals, however, can also take advantage of the networks — a reality the state seems strangely at peace with.
Overall I found 31 articles that mentioned the Tor project (after sifting out all articles that simply mentioned someone named ). As I say that was the only instance where someone questioned the decision to develop this technology. Worth noting that prior to that one sentence the author wrote that the reason the Navy turned the project over to the public was to help people rise up against their governments. (As Yasha Levine reported, that&;s not the reason.)
In other words this debate has already been decided. We are now being instructed how to feel about it. Don&;t believe me? From the 31 articles:
Tor&;intended to help activists and members of the news media connect anonymously and safely
Tor&;helps people circumvent Internet controls under authoritarian regimes
The United States Navy&;made it available to citizens of oppressive regimes trying to communicate and rise up against their governments
its creators point to&;users including journalists, activists&;whistleblowers
Tor&;is also used by&;activists and journalists in countries with strict censorship of media and the internet
running Tor&;could mean a political activist in China, Russia or Syria could protect their identity.
Tor also pointed&;to organisations using the technology to protect dissidents, activists
Tor&;has been important for dissidents in places like Iran and Egypt.
Tor&;is intended to&;allow people living in countries with repressive governments to communicate safely.
TOR&;an important tool for those suffering from political persecution.
Tor &;valuable tool for political activists living under oppressive regimes
Tor has been used by tech-savvy dissidents around the world for over a decade.
That last quote is from an article co-authored by Google chairman Eric Schmidt. Ironically they then wrote this:
Our travels have taken us to North Korea, Saudi Arabia and other countries grappling with repression. Yet when we meet dissidents and members of harassed minorities, we are surprised by how few of them use systems like Tor.
Um&;what?Levine reported that this isn&;t actually why Tor was released to the public, but rather than being lauded for he&;s openly mocked.
From the Greenwald story linked in that Tweet:
It is relied upon by journalists, activists and campaigners in the US and Europe as well as in China, Iran and Syria, to maintain the privacy of their communications and avoid reprisals from government. To this end, it receives around 60% of its funding from the US government, primarily the State Department and the Department of Defense – which houses the NSA.
There is Glenn Greenwald saying that the reason the U.S. government pays Tor developers is to aid reporters and activists. &;To this end.&; He is quite literally saying the U.S. government is funding Tor so that political dissidents and journalists can hide their activities from government spying.
Either Greenwald didn&;t double check what he was told and reported a lie told to benefit the US intelligence community as fact or else he willfully lied to his readers.
Here&;s what Yasha Levine reported:
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.&;In order to cloak spooks better, Tor needed to be used by a diverse group of people&;Tor also needed to be moved off site and disassociated from Naval research&;“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.’&;&;The consumer version of Tor would be marketed to everyone&;to create a massive crowdsourced torrent-style network made up from thousands of volunteers all across the world.At the very end of 2004&;the US Navy cut most of its Tor funding&;and, oddly, the project was handed over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation&;In a December 2004 press release announcing its support for Tor, EFF curiously failed to mention that this anonymity tool was developed primarily for military and intelligence use. Instead, it focused purely on Tor’s ability to protect free speech from oppressive regimes in the Internet age.
None of the NY Times articles over the past 3 years mentioned, as Levine did, the reason the U.S. government wants people to use Tor.
However it&;s not only that Tor will be used by far more criminals and than dissidents and that no one is asking if it&;s worth it that&;s noteworthy. People who assuredly would have strong moral objections about helping agencies like the FBI and CIA are being deceived about this by the very people they trust most to guide them in such matters. are getting paid handsomely by that very government.
The New York Times lying about something the government is spending money on is nothing new. That&;s pretty much . The twist here is they are joined by rabid anti-government activists in their lying in service to the state.