The NSA Is Scaring People Away From Tor

It makes sense in a backwards sort of way. Last year's NSA revelations scared people into seeking more privacy online, and so they turned to Tor, the anonymous web browser. Then, we learned that the NSA is actually targeting people that use Tor, sending users running in the opposite direction. Understandably, this has Tor worried.

In an interview with The Guardian, Tor's chief executive Andrew Lewman expressed some of his concerns about the internet in the post-Snowden era. Lewman basically told the paper that Tor is struggling to scale and suggests that spy agencies are part of the problem. "It's been co-opted by GCHQ and the NSA that if you're using Tor, you must be a criminal," said Lewman. "I know the NSA and [British spy agency] GCHQ want you to believe that Tor users are already suspect, because, you know, god forbid who would want their privacy online, they must be terrorists."

We already knew this, but it's interesting. Authorities' interest in tracking Tor users is only getting more aggressive. The FBI has recently been busy planting malware in Tor users' computers. It's for a good cause! But still. It's part of a larger movement that's peeling back the layers of an anonymous internet tool that many non-criminals now depend on to stay safe, and the idea that government hackers could strip them of their anonymity is very scary. We know that it's possible.

The NSA Is Scaring People Away From Tor

The little ray of sunshine in all of this is that Tor awareness is spreading to new sectors. This week, Aphex Twin teased his first album in over a decade on Tor, and the artist's attracted over 133,000 views on a part of the anonymous web that's typically pretty quiet. This is great PR for Tor, which seems a little bit sick of being known only as the hacker browser. It really is so, so much more. [The Guardian]