Virgil Griffith- Research Scientist in Singapore
Tor’s Branding Pivot is Going to Get Someone Killed
Aka, human rights activism meets the Cobra Effect
Three weeks ago, The Tor Project, Inc. published their Tor Social
Contract. The contract was covered by the media, but the media focused
on the policy not to backdoor software (as though that were
surprising?), and regrettably, missed the real story carefully hidden
in the first bullet:
1. We advance human rights by creating and deploying usable anonymity
and privacy technologies.
Tor’s branding pivot is misguided, damaging for global privacy, and
ironically, harmful to Asian human rights. Anonymity requires not just
company, it requires diverse company, yet Tor has increased the
barrier-to-entry for all non-HR Tor users. This something Tor has
brought upon itself, and they are knowingly throwing their most
vulnerable users under the bus.
After seven years of proud service to Tor including: founding Tor2web,
Roster, and Toroken, as well as writing a Tor Tech Report and running
several high-performance relays, I am resigning because:
•Given my residency in Southeast Asia, Tor’s pivot creates
nonnegligible risk for me personally.
•I do not trust an organization which prefers reaping modest public
relations benefits within comparably cozy jurisdictions over the
security of its neediest users risking imprisonment.
Tor is carefully positioning itself away from the efficacious privacy
promotor it used to be.