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Ideas on increasing the significance of tor
IMHO what tor needs to get more accepted and widely used is speed.
Unless the user experience of using tor is at least comparable to the
regular use of the Internet, only relatively few people will use tor in the
Why does this matter to us? It's just their privacy that's in jeopardy,
Almost everybody you ask will recognize the importance of free speech to the
continuous development of an open, free and pluralistic society. We all know
that free speech is not a matter of me and you having that right but rather
a matter of all of us having the right to speak freely. Because only if all
members of our society have that right, we will continue to be (or start to
become; depending on your point of view) a truly pluralistic and open
IMHO the same principles apply to anonymous free speech (which by the way is
not protected by Article 8 of the European Human Rights Convention). It is
therefore imperative to make as many people as possible use tor.
I think with privacy it's like this: Use it or loose it (as a society).
Coming back to the matter of speed: what do we need to increase the
performance of the tor network? More tor (exit) nodes, right? (please
correct me if I'm wrong)
Right now we simply ask the people to put up their own tor servers. The only
thing people can do that are not that skilled but still want to support tor
is to make a donation. But they will not see the effect their money has on
What I suggest is to create an incentive for donations while at the same
time creating an instrument that will increase the number of tor (exit)
- Users should be able to donate money for a tor (exit) node.
They should be able to say "I am sponsoring X tor nodes!".
Users should also be able to specify on which
continent (or in which country?) "their" tor node is to be placed.
- The installation, configuration and maintenance could then
be performed in an efficient manner by a team of volunteers
or people getting paid using part of the donated money.
Whatever organization takes the donated money to install and operate new tor
nodes will sooner or later be operating quite some tor nodes. This raises
- Is it a good idea to grant a single organization that much power?
Controlling multiple tor nodes has a great potential for abuse.
IMHO that risk is rather low if the organization in question is EFF
and good policies and procedures are in place for the administration
of the tor nodes thereby limiting the risk of volunteers turning out
to be operatives of some law enforcement agency.
- That organization (and their operatives) might be a target for law suits.
I don't know about the U.S. but in Europe, the operation of a tor node
is - as a general rule - covered by the protection of Article 12 of the
European E-Commerce Directive. Recent German and Austrian court
rulings questioned the scope of this provision.
All member states of the European Union are currently implementing the
European Data Retention Directive which demands that access providers retain
the information who communicated with whom, when, how long, and from which
location (Cell-ID for mobile devices) if (and only if) the communication was
over a mobile phone, a land line, E-Mail or VoIP. This data will have to be
retained for at least 6 months (depending on the member state's
implementation). The contents of the communication will not be retained.
This legislative measure will create an increased demand for anonymous free
speech. The question is: Is tor up for the task?