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[tor-talk] ProPublicaâs Tor hidden service

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Hey folks,

Last week, you may have seen a story making the rounds that ProPublica
(the investigative news outlet I'm at) launched "the Dark Web's First
Major News Site"[1]. (Wired's words, not mine.)

In short, I've set up an onion service way of accessing the content on
our clearnet site: propub3r6espa33w.onion. We're doing this
experimentally because we write a lot about things like privacy and
surveillance[2], and we have projects where folks search for somewhat
personal information like their doctor (so they can see if said doctor
has ever received money from drug companies[3] & things like that). And
also because I thought it'd be a fulfilling thing to try in between
other projects here. (If you wonder why a news dev would find this sort
of thing fulfilling, I am also "that guy" who created Onion Browser[4]
for iOS a few years ago.)

We've heard from my nerd counterparts at other news orgs, asking how we
put it together and etc. Since we like sharing and open-sourcing a lot
of the things we work on, I've written a fairly thorough piece about our
onion site, how to set one up, and our own configuration:


It covers a lot of ground -- the terminology, pointing out non-www
services like Ricochet, comparing clearnet-over-Tor with onion services,
subdomains for onion sites, vanity onion names and whether they're a bad
idea, etc. I've tried to write it as accessibly as possible at first,
descending into more technical detail as you read on.

I'm still worried that I may have missed some best practices or that I
may have left something dangerous in or otherwise mis-configured
something in that post, so please do let me know if you see anything
like that.

Appreciate any feedback y'all might have. Judging from the responses
I've already received, our use of this service and sharing this work has
already spurred some new, constructive conversations around onion sites
and the role of tools like Tor in the media.


Mike Tigas
News Applications Developer, ProPublica
@mtigas | https://mike.tig.as/ | 0x6E0E9923

[2]: https://www.propublica.org/series/dragnets
[3]: https://projects.propublica.org/docdollars/
[4]: https://mike.tig.as/onionbrowser/


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