Category Archives: tic103

#TIC104 Summary “An Onion a Day Keeps the NSA Away”

This article from the Journal of Internet Law discusses the online anonymity network “Tor”. At it its most basic, Tor can be explained as allowing users to interact online without having to expose their IP address.

The article gives a quick but detailed and helpful summary of how Tor works and how it is different from proxies and other methods that people use to keep their internet habits private. The author also goes over some of Tor’s functions in more detail, such as the ability to use it to get around workplace or school internet blockage of certain URLs or categories of website. I used to use the Tor browser in secondary school to play flash games on the library computers, but apparently those same features can have an even more important use of allowing one to bypass their country’s preferred method of internet censorship, such as China’s infamous firewall.

The article also brings up a big problem with complete internet anonymity, which is that it allows people to exchange illegal goods and images (such as child pornography) with little to no way for authorities to track down the people behind such websites. The author brushes off this problem with complete anonymity by arguing that the continued existence of such websites serve as proof that Tor works as it should. To me, this just reiterates the big problem with choosing to stand behind the ideal of complete anonymity online, as although it allows people free access to information and communication without worrying about angering the powers that be, it also allows for the continuance of criminal activities that most sane people would consider detestable, such as the making and distribution of pornographic images of children.

Finally, the author brings up the ways in which network administrators are attempting to block access to Tor and the ways which he as used to get around them.