THE GLOBE’S story about Tor Software says it can be used to guard online privacy, but also to hide illegal activities ( “Privacy software, criminal use; Unintended consequence of Walpole firm’s technology,’’ Page A1, March 8). Doors on our houses, shades on our windows, and the anonymity that comes from being in a crowd can also hide illegal activity. Our privacy and personal freedom is what distinguishes our country from just about all others. Tor gives citizens that privacy online – and, more importantly, gives people in other countries a taste of that personal freedom, too.
I WAS active with Anonymous during last year’s Arab Spring. I watched as dozens of people combined their knowledge and resources to crack through the walls that the governments of Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt had thrown up around their Internet.
One of the projects Anonymous undertook was to create a packet of useful information and computer programs to help people in those countries evade censorship. A key part of that packet was Tor. The extreme security of Tor provides a vital channel of communication between the open and free Internet and the isolated, closed Internet of oppressive regimes. People in China, Iran, Syria, Burma, and other places have used Tor to get news and information, when any other means would have put them at enormous risk.
For the Globe’s story to focus instead on how Tor is “inadvertently providing child pornographers, drug dealers, and other criminals’’ with anonymity is an insult to people who risked their lives. While news corporations were ignoring the first weeks of the Arab Spring, Tor was a vital source of information. Tor helped disseminate the news that ultimately led corporate media to take interest in the Arab Spring.