Friday, September 18, 2015

Library offers anonymous browsing software. Homeland Security objects.

Hilarity ensures:
In July, the Kilton Public Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, was the first library in the country to become part of the anonymous Web surfing service Tor. The library allowed Tor users around the world to bounce their Internet traffic through the library, thus masking users’ locations.

Soon after state authorities received an email about it from an agent at the Department of Homeland Security.

“The Department of Homeland Security got in touch with our Police Department,” said Sean Fleming, the library director of the Lebanon Public Libraries.

After a meeting at which local police and city officials discussed how Tor could be exploited by criminals, the library pulled the plug on the project.
Funny, cars can be used by both honest citizens and criminals.  There's no word as to whether the motorpool also got a visit from Special Agent Friendly.
“Right now we’re on pause,” said Fleming. “We really weren’t anticipating that there would be any controversy at all.”
But word got out, and the community responded:
Update, Sept. 16, 2015: After this article was published, the library received overwhelming support from the community to restart its participation in the anonymous Web browsing project. The library board met Tuesday and decided to restart the effort.
Bravo to the good Burghers of Lebanon, NH for sticking up for privacy.



Old NFO said...

Heh... Look for a tap to be 'placed' on that library... Just sayin...

Hat Trick said...

Good to see that for some in New Hampshire the state motto still means something.

matism said...

Actually, Old NFO, they won't need to place a "tap". The library is sure to be using either Microsoft or Apple operating systems, and those fine corporations have given "Law Enforcement" back doors into their software to let them run around as root without the user's knowledge. They can read any file on your system, and they can write any file they want TO your system, and they don't need no steenkin' warrant because they don't even have to TELL anyone they are doing it. Much like they do to cell phones with Stingray and other similar devices. All that encryption is nice, but since the FedPigs can get the info as clear text BEFORE it's encrypted or after it's decrypted, it's only for show.

Ken said...

DHS may not be able to compromise Tor on its own hook, but Tor has been compromised in the past by FBI, NSA, or both, no?

matism said...

As I understand it, DHS, FBI, and NSA have set up Tor servers that capture as much Tor traffic as they can. In that process, they get metadata as to what is coming from where to whom. And metadata is extremely valuable for identifying "partnerships". I also remember hearing a while ago that some security software company had taken NSA recommendations in developing their software. Turns out that NSA told them to design their encryption in such a way that made it VERY easy for NSA to break. Of course, NSA never explained that to them. And as I said earlier, if NSA et al can get the info in clear text BEFORE it is encrypted on the way out, or after it is decrypted on the way in, they don't NEED to be able to compromise Tor. So unless you're encrypting your stuff BEFORE you put it on your computer, and not decrypting it until AFTER you remove from a computer with internet connectivity, Tor don't do jack ship.