On the legitimacy of privacy (and anonymity)

Why... Again!

Yes, I stumbled back on the Zimmerman's page on why he wrote PGP. I do have a slight bias for the character... still this 1991 paper is as relevent today. Here's the link:


On the same tone, here's a good legitimate list of anonymity usage. I will make sure to add a link in my abuse page:

Mirrored from the Hidden wiki on the onion network

(direct link: http://624eb2rznzhtq2cz.onion)

Copied from torgle's cache

In light of [WWW] recent [WWW] comments
with respect to crypto such as "only paedophiles use that technology
and we would all be better off if it was banned," there is a need for a
list of legitimate uses of anonymizing software such as Tor.

Please contribute examples of legitimate ways in which you use Tor day to day:

Please keep comments which are not additions to the list in the section at the bottom.

Legitimate Uses for Tor

  • Business intelligence gathering. I don't want my competitors
    to know that I'm digging up useful information on them because the
    server logs for foocorp.com see lots of connections from barcorp.com's
  • Skip-tracing. If I'm gathering information on someone that my
    employer is going to haul into court, it doesn't make sense for them to
    know that I'm assembling a profile on them out of, in part, information
    they have chosen to make freely available, such as in weblogs or
    personal websites.
  • It's nobody's damned business what websites I browse, be it pornotube.com or the Christian Science Monitor.
  • Parents, teachers, and employers might decide that some of my
    interests, be they drugs, sexual practises, alternative religions, or
    political standpoints run counter to their ideals and might fire my
    ass. I don't mean surfing from work, either - I mean that there are
    ways of their getting hold of network traffic information (look at what
    happened at HP this (which?) month). If they don't get caught doing
    shady things, like digging into your personal life, it's not illegal,
    and you'd have a hell of a time proving that they did anything wrong.
  • Tor is especially useful if your views are not accepted by the
    mainstream. One should be able to express views freely and without fear
    of actions of/from oppressive governments. (note: all governments are
  • [WWW] Wikipedia can be accessed from mainland China safely via Tor.

  • [WWW] 9/11-related
    websites that try to prove that the 9/11 incident should have looked
    more or less like a Hollywood movie can be accessed within NATO without
    fear of covert government torture, which is common among paranoid
  • Information can be 'anonymously' submitted by severely
    regulated dissidents in many countries. Tor may be these individuals'
    only option to access the outside world.
  • In most Western countries there exist strict rules as to
    privacy and private paper mails, and it is usually a criminal offence
    to open and read letters unless you are the recipient; so are private
    messages in sealed envelopes too "strongly encrypted" when sent through
    the mail service? Criminals may exploit the privacy feature provided
    for in most postal legislations to exchange cp or commit other crimes.
    After all you can't know a letter in violation of the law and its
    content is of a criminal nature, unless you open the envelope... Should
    we abolish privacy in our societies, or even the mail service, the same
    way we criticize Tor?
  • The COOL factor. You are very cool if you use Tor. It is legitimate to be very cool.
  • ISPs and search engines will not be able to data mine your internet usage.

  • You can host anything and remain portable regardless to your
    ISP, and even without any hoster. For both anonymous and non-anonymous
  • You can host websites and other services without your own IP,
    all you need to publish a location hidden service is a running Tor
    client (which only requires an outgoing connection to the Internet).
    Thus; Tor allows you to host even if you are behind a firewall.
  • You may have no interest in hiding your activities, only your
    location. For instance, if you're a rock star, you'd like to be able to
    check your email without your fans learning what hotel you're staying
  • Securing Unsecure public WiFi connection. A lot of free
    hotspots have little or no security at all, with Tor you can encrypt
    all your traffic (including mail passwords et al) making your
    connection at least as secure as a wired connection! (One torrizen
    happens to be doing this right now as I write this. Thanks, Tor!)
  • With illicit search engine optimization becoming more
    sophisticated, building a large-scale anonymization system becomes very
    useful for ensuring quality search engine results. When networks like
    Tor become big enough for search engine crawlers to use them for
    crawling the web, it will become impossible for SEOs to manipulate
    search engine rankings by recognizing the crawlers by their IPs and
    delivering special pages to them.
  • This page outlines some merits of hidden services is particular for the development of a cyber-society: DigitalSocietyManifesto

  • Tor offers a way for marginalized people to discuss things
    which would otherwise earn them mistreatment from the masses. As a
    result people (notably pedophiles) can actually talk about things,
    rather than stay in complete hiding their entire lives.

Related links