The Dark Side
At a time when online privacy seems all but impossible, one refuge we’ve had for browsing the Internet anonymously has been Tor, the browser thats keeps your identity and location hidden. But with every passing week, it’s becoming harder to trust that Tor is perfectly secure—especially considering that not even the Tor Project can be sure of their security anymore.
Last week, European police bragged that an international sting — now called Operation Onymous — pulled down over 400 deep web services and put 17 people behind bars. In response, Tor put out this explanation on their blog of how these services were found and shut down:
On Friday, Facebook announced that they’d opened up their network for access through Tor, the browser that allows you to roam the Internet anonymously. Tor users, privacy activists and members of the media (guilty) scoffed at the idea — why access Facebook anonymously if Facebook insists on plastering your real name on every interaction?
That’s a question best answered by the Tor Foundation themselves. On Friday, they posted on their official blog explaining why there are still plenty of good reasons to use Tor while checking Facebook, no matter what you’re doing there.
Hits and Misses
People are starting to wake up to the fact that using Facebook is like selling your quantified soul to an advertising giant, and Facebook clearly realizes that they might want to adjust their course lest they creep us all out eternally. Unfortunately, everything they do in the name of progress is anything but.
Today, Facebook announced in a post that they’ve built a direct route to using Facebook through Tor, the popular tool for browsing the Internet without being tracked. So this means you can use Facebook anonymously now? Of course not.
Yesterday, a rumor surfaced on deep web blog DeepDotWeb that Comcast was going to start blocking users of Tor, an anonymous web browser. Comcast Vice President Jason Livingood immediately and rightfully called bullshit, because for all of its customer service foibles, Comcast knows that preventing people from browsing the Internet anonymously would be a daring infringement on user privacy.
The confusion came to rest shortly after the posting of a Business Insider story called “Comcast Denies It Will Cut Off Customers Who Use Tor, The Web Browser For Criminals.” Besides reaffirming the simple notion that you shouldn’t just believe something you read on a subreddit, the story — which was viewed over 22,000 times — reaffirms the notion that Tor is a tool for evil.
A post on the blog Arabcrunch.com went viral this morning, hitting the front pages of both Reddit and Hacker News. The post stated that Facebook had begun blocking logins from users attempting to access it from the anonymized browser TOR. For activists and political dissidents who use the Internet to communicate with the outside world in countries where doing so is a crime, being unable to login to Facebook using TOR posed a huge problem.
Privacy is Dead
Facebook Home has already passed 500,000 installations on Google Play a week after launch, which just goes to show people love to throw away their friends. [The Next Web]
A cadre of Silicon Valley companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, are quietly trying to kill a privacy bill in California that would give residents the right to know how tech companies are using their personal information. [insideBayArea]
Japan wants to stymie access to TOR by asking ISPs to flat out block it. [Wired]
Comedy Central is planning to host a comedy festival on Twitter because this is what the future is like now. [New York Times]
How technology helped the FBI track down the Boston Marathon bombers. [Washington Post]
It’s baaaaaaaack. [Valleywag]
Law and Order
“CryptoParty” sounds like an event involving strangers in balaclavas and Guy Fawkes masks sipping cocktails and staring unblinkingly at each other. That might be fun, but a CryptoParty is really, according to this wiki, a gathering of “Interested parties with computers and the desire to learn to use the most basic crypto programs.” CryptoParties are practical efforts to assist private citizens in learning how to combat what many activists contend is a creeping Orwellian surveillance state in developed countries worldwide.
In a post published a few days ago, the Australian edition of SC Magazine elaborated:
Lawyers Guns and Money
Australian authorities have put supposedly anonymized users surfing Silk Road for weed and other sundries on notice: the coppers are one step ahead of you. A joint press release published by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service on Wednesday may serve as notice to anyone who is happily booting TOR and using the miracle of the Internet to score weapons-grade kush:
In keeping with today’s theme of aggregating news you can perhaps use if you have more money than common sense, we thought it worth pointing to Gizmodo’s in-depth investigation of the dark Internet’s hub for ordering weapons online.
Wares for sale at the aptly named Armory include everything from the humble Glock to the Read More