DoJ to judges: use Tor to protect your internet connection

This summer, DoJ Cybercrime Lab director Ovie Carroll presented at a Federal Judicial Seminar in San Diego, attended by over 100 US federal judges, where he recommended that the judges should use Tor -- The Onion Router, subject of much handwringing and serious technological assaults from the US government, but which is also primarily funded by the USG -- to protect their personal information while using their home and work computers.

The remarks were relayed second-hand during a motion filed in the ongoing criminal prosecutions over Playpen, a child pornography site that used a Tor "hidden service" to hide from law enforcement, but which was eventually breached by hacking techniques deployed by the FBI.

Carroll isn't the only senior US law enforcement official to endorse Tor: Russell Handorf, an FBI computer scientist, has also spoken in support of the tool.


Indeed, it would be exceptionally foolish to assume that every law enforcement or justice official would automatically be antagonistic towards Tor. By its very nature, Tor is a dual-use technology; it can be used to protect individual privacy, circumvent censorship, and obfuscate metadata. But it can also be used by some pedophiles to remain one step ahead of the cops.

Also, if Judge Bryan's comments are accurate, Carroll's advice may not have been that robust anyway. Tor is not really useful for protecting personal information on computers, or necessarily mitigating the damage from data breaches: those just aren't the sort of things that Tor protects against.


Department of Justice Official Tells Hundred Federal Judges to Use Tor
[Joseph Cox/Motherboard]

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