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Re: [tor-talk] How does Tor help abuse victims?

On Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 10:56 AM, Andrew Lewman <andrew@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> On 2014-10-01 13:20, Sebastian G. <bastik.tor> wrote:
>> I appear to lack imagination on how Tor helps abuse victims. Since some
>> of you are involved with some organizations working in that field, I
>> hope you give some insight.
>> Personally I see no benefit in using Tor from the point of view of an
>> abuse victim. Beside the properties why anyone could use Tor.
> Tor is a tool in a toolbox full of options. It alone isn't going to solve
> all the problems experienced by a victim. Tor Browser, Tails, and Whonix do
> provide relief from the constant surveillance experienced by victims.

this would seem to apply only to abusers who themselves are fairly
technically adept.

> They are tools which give back to a victim a small slice of control over
> their lives. It helps them feel safe for a period of time, when otherwise
> there are only risks, dangers, and threats.
> When working with victims of abuse, the understanding and demystifying of
> technology is a big help. Helping someone understand how they are being
> controlled through technology is a huge confidence builder. Helping the
> person understand how their abuser is using technology makes the other seem
> far less omnipotent and powerful.

none of this is Tor- or even "deep web"-specific.

> Abuse is about power and control. Anything which can return some power and
> control to the victim does help in immeasurable ways.

> After the victim feels safe, then we can talk about ways to safely
> communicate with others,

not Tor-specific.

such through OTR-enabled chat, Tor Browser to visit survivor forums safely,
> and other means of safely using the Internet.

this presumes, as in #1, that their abuser is technically sophisticated. I
don't doubt for a second that there are such abusers. But I also suspect
they are few in number.

Almost all resources for domestic abuse, and many resources for issues like
transgender people and others, recommend and/or offer anonymity.

My understanding is that Tor is primarily designed to make surveillance by
third parties, especially institutions and states, difficult or even
impossible. That is different from ordinary anonymity that most users do
not have the expertise or willingness to pierce.

I accept that Tor has a very positive use-case in "oppressive" regimes that
block or track certain kinds of internet traffic--though I put "oppressive'
in quotation marks because I think that is a highly subjective judgment
that is much more difficult than the word makes it sound.

I find the argument that there is a significant positive use-case for Tor
in circumstances of domestic abuse--as opposed to much of what you offer
here, education about technology and anonymity in general--much less clear
than I'd like, and the answers so far haven't helped a lot.

As someone pointed out above, the "bad" use case for abusers to avoid law
enforcement--which is much closer to Tor's functional "purpose"--is quite

Believe it or not, I have nothing to do with law enforcement or the
government (or any contractor, etc.; a third-party non-profit non-think
tank research project) and I would LIKE To believe the positive case for
Tor--that's why I keep asking about it. But in my own research I keep
finding lots of both data and arguments that support the "Bad" case, and
the "good" cases keep seeming anecdotal, theoretical, or incidental to
Tor's core functionality.

The people I work with are writing about Tor, and so far, the negatives
keep far outweighing the positives, meaning that the ultimate analysis is
likely to draw negative conclusions. .

> --
> Andrew
> https://www.torproject.org/
> +1-781-948-1982
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