Internet users throughout the world have signed up in droves for anonymity software that allows them to live and interact online without international governments being able to monitor their activity.
The Tor Project reported that the number of people subscribed to
its service has doubled since June, when former National Security
agency contractor, Edward Snowden, revealed that United States
intelligence analysts were secretly tracking global internet
activity. Short for “The Onion Project,” which implies of layers
anonymity, Tor conceals a computer’s location and relays an
individual’s messages, search queries, and other functions
through a series of encryptions.
While the numbers have not been directly attributed to the NSA
leak, the number of Americans using Tor jumped 75 percent between
June 1, just days before the Snowden leak, and August 27, 2013.
US citizens now make up 17.54 percent of the daily Tor traffic,
making Americans the only nationality to surpass 10 percent of
the networks’ user base.
Tor, while not impossible for authorities to infiltrate, does
offer an extra layer of privacy with a complicated network of
over 3,000 connection and redistribution points around the world.
The influx of users also improves connections between users by
facilitating a larger number of exit points, thereby making a
individual activity harder to trace, according to The Daily
Many users on the community news and discussion site Reddit,
however, warned that simply enlisting Tor on one’s computer is
not enough to ensure complete privacy.
“It’s basically a browser. All you have to do is download it,
extract and then start the browser,” wrote user Naya Daur.
“Remember, though, Tor can help you achieve anonymity, but it
can’t save you from stupidity. Don’t log into accounts that you
log in from the clear-net and don’t give out personally
Other skeptics wondered if the Tor Project is a plot by the NSA
to identify Internet users who feel the strongest need to hide
themselves. Tor has previously admitted that the US Department of
Defense was one of its principal financial backers, with some
estimating that as much as 86 percent of Tor’s 2010 budget came
from the Defense Department.
That security conversation was on display earlier this month when
the federal Bureau of Investigation was suspected of launching a
piece of malware through Tor to identify and arrest a man alleged
to be “the largest facilitator of child porn on the
planet,” according to the FBI. Tor users quickly took to web
discussion boards to wonder if the government’s Tor funding
helped the FBI infiltrate the anonymous network.
That incident, along with statements from Tor’s own developers,
revealed that while the service could provide a buffer against
NSA surveillance, it was hardly a catch-all.
“Privacy is a concern, it just isn’t a mass market
concern,” Hannett Hill, the owner of a web security company,
told The New York Times when Tor was still in development in
2006, although his philosophy still rings true seven years later.
“One of the big enlightenments that we had at a certain point
is that people don’t want to buy security software. They want
peace of mind.”
Republished from: RT