Cyber Defence Library

Technical and Legal Overview of the Tor Anonymity Network

Technical and Legal Overview of the Tor Anonymity Network

In this paper an overview of the Tor anonymisation network is presented from the technical perspective and also several legal issues related to its use are analysed.

The technical part covers the Internet privacy tools and censorship circumvention methods. Tor, which is a third-generation onion routing system, was seen to be the most common and popular tool. However, there are various issues which hinder the effectiveness of Tor. Some of them arise from the properties of Tor, although others are related to user mistakes or indirect matters which affect the system. Due to these weaknesses, technical assessments show that providing 100% privacy is not possible at this stage.

The legal section presents selected legal challenges related to the use of Tor. The relationship between governments and Tor is discussed and the usage of Tor by law enforcement is analysed. Also the usage of tor is analysed from the human rights perspective. Anonymity is an integral part of established human rights, and therefore a complete ban of Tor or its indiscriminate monitoring would constitute an undue interference with these rights.