Russia Prepares To Block Tor And Anonymizing Proxies

from the don't-give-them-ideas dept

As more and more countries start introducing Web blocks, some people console themselves with the "at least there's always Tor" argument. Politicians may be slow, but they are not all completely stupid, and they are beginning to get the message that Tor and other anonymous services potentially render their Web blocks moot. It's then not a huge leap for them to move on to the next stage -- banning or blocking Tor -- as Russia now seems to be contemplating, according to this article on Russia Today:

The head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has personally ordered preparations for laws that would block the Tor anonymity network from the entire Russian sector of the Internet, a Russian newspaper reported.

FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov announced the initiative at a recent session of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, saying that his agency would develop the legislative drafts together with other Russian law enforcement and security bodies, the widely circulated daily Izvestia reported.
In fact, according to the Izvestia story (original in Russian), along with Tor, all anonymizing proxy services would be banned too. No prizes for guessing what's behind the latest move:
The news was disclosed after the Russian civil movement 'Head Hunters' wrote a letter to the FSB with a request to block Tor, as it is one of the favorite software tools for distributors and users of child pornography. The FSB replied that the request was directed to the wrong body, as crimes against public health and morals fall under the Interior Ministry's jurisdiction.
However, the FSB graciously decided to get involved anyway:
The FSB official said that the agency initiated the move as internet anonymizers were used by weapon traffickers, drug dealers and credit card fraudsters, giving the FSB an obvious interest in limiting the use of such software.
In other words, banning Tor and anonymizers is a real crowd-pleaser, since politicians can point to lots of bad people that use them. Just like they use the Internet, or postal service: and just as there are lots of good uses of the postal service and the Internet, so Tor and anonymizers are also vital for a wide range of non-evil people, notably activists and political dissidents, both of whom are already under pressure in Russia. But what is a bug for some is a feature for others: blocking Tor -- "for the children" -- would also have the knock-on effect of making it even harder for dissidents and political groups to access information and organize in secret.

Assuming that the proposed law is passed, as seems likely, the worry has to be that other countries will take note and start to think about following suit, probably playing the same populist card of fighting child pornography that Russia's 'Head Hunters' are now employing.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 3:02am

    Fear not, the US will soon follow.

    It's interesting though. I suppose Ed Snowden is using all sorts of routes to conceal and anonymize his activities online for very good reasons which probably includes TOR and such proxies/vpns and whatever. Can you see where I'm getting at?

    The for the children mantra is getting tired already. It's about time they used the correct term: blatant censorship.

     

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  2.  
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    Corwin (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:35am

    Blocking TOR

    Good luck with that.


    lol

     

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  3.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:35am

    Re:

    Yep, and the UK won't be far behind either and just about every business will be criminalised.

     

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  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:36am

    Re: Blocking Anything

    Good luck with that

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:39am

    How do they block the use of TOR other than by blocking private servers, or by limiting encrypted connections to approved sites such as Banks.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:43am

    Certainly they will not block pix of the great Putin shirtless adventures.

    Putin on the Ritz
    http://imgur.com/gallery/7DSoY48

     

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  7.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:46am

    Re:

    That's a good question I've been trying to figure out. They can block maybe the ports TOR uses? But that can be circumvented. Block known exit nodes from accessing Russian sites or something?

    As for the proxies I'm guessing they are gonna maintain some sort of black list but still, anybody can set up an anonymous proxy in minutes..

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:48am

    "Russian sector of the Internet"

    "Russian sector of the Internet"

    That shows a disturbing worldview.

    There are no "national sectors" on the Internet. It is fully transparent. Without looking, I have no idea which country the www.techdirt.com servers are in. Where I work, we use servers located in another country, while our target users are in our country, and they do not notice.

    Their mentality seems to be stuck in the bad old times where each country had its own separate national network.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Sat, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:57am

    TOR maintans a public list of outproxy nodes which could arguably be used to implement the blocks for non-tech-savvy TOR users.

    There are ways to avoid this and it's pretty certain that the folks at tor will find an easy way around this.

     

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  10.  
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    Anon E. Mous (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:58am

    I have to kind of laugh at the justification for this. Here we have the Russian government who has been silencing it's political critics and throwing them in jail or charging them with some crime to silence them.

    This has also been the case with Journalists who are not government friendly as well as civilian protesters of the Russian government policies.

    The you have the Russian governments crackdown on the internet and copyright enforcement and how they seem to be hell bent as stopping that courtesy of the pressure they have had on them from the Hollywood paid for Obama Government.

    The irony is stunning that the Russian government will crack down on this but yet do nothing to those in Russia who are running Bot Net, committing financial crimes ranging from credit card fraud and bank fraud to pilfering business accounts through ACH fraud and fraudulent wire transfers that seem to go to Russia all the time and I wont even bring up the spam and pill operations that are ran for there.

    But yet they choose to do nothing about the aforementioned groups committing those crimes in not only Russia but many other countries as well. But I guess if you kick back enough to certain people, the Russian government wont bother you.

    Once again it shows us all that many governments around the globe will seek to change the rules in the name of saving the children or what ever other cause they want to label it as all in the name of increasing their powers on keeping tabs on not only their citizens but their critics as well.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 4:58am

    Re:

    The list of tor nodes is public. Each node downloads the list from the tor directory authorities on startup, and choses the intermediate notes it will use from that list. It is easy to block traffic to these nodes.

    The way around that is to use bridges (https://www.torproject.org/docs/bridges.html.en). They are not listed publicly, and can obfuscate the protocol further to make them even harder to detect. See that page for details.

     

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  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:02am

    Re: Blocking TOR

    Sheesh. Are you kids surprised that TOR can be blocked? -- It has easily identifiable (to a computer) characteristics; probably all major ISPs have deep-packet-inspection gadgets by now.

    So another of your piratey dodges falls to the two-edged sword of tech.

    Oh, and that's besides TOR almost certainly being a honey pot which is actually sending everything in plain text to NSA.

     

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  13.  
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    Nigflot blarny quando floon, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    Tor was funded and developed by the US gov. I don't understand why so many people trust it.

     

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  14.  
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    Nigflot blarny quando floon, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:11am

    I feel that by the end of this decade, the Internet will cease to exist as we know it. Each nation will have its own controlled network that is no different from the controlled TV, radio and news of today.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Sat, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    It's open source and decentralized. Please get the facts straight before you assume things like that.

    Otherwise it wouldn't have taken them so long to kill freedom hosting, too.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:16am

    You can't really block Tor effectively as long as new exit nodes appear any blacklist will fail and a whitelist model would pretty much break the internet in Russia.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:24am

    and the USA and the UK will be falling over themselves to introduce exactly the same measures! governments everywhere are dismantling the Internet and removing freedom and privacy of ordinary people. you can bet your arse that there will be no ban for businesses to use anonymising services. and, yet again, this has all been brought about because the US entertainment industries and Hollywood refused to join the digital age! they have bribed politicians everywhere to get laws introduced that will enable the holding back of innovation and technical advancement, just to keep those industry heads receiving the same level or better income and control that they have been receiving for years. governments are doing all they can to aid in this because they dont like not being in control of citizens and fear the people learning more than the governments want them to learn. if the people can be kept in the dark, governments can do what they like, undetected. they also think they are entitled to receive much more money from the internet, but even if they do, no one outside of government will be any better off. i wonder what excuses are going to be used when there is something similar to what is happening in Egypt and Syria atm. i suppose then, as it may suit someones needs or aims, the Internet will be open again. in the meantime, it is going to be shut down, in the form we know and how it was meant to be, until it is controlled completely. with security agencies taping in to telecoms companies whenever they want, i am surprised there hasn't been more done, quicker, to censor and restrict the net. good old USA does it again! cant handle it so fuck it up completely! cant do better than that!!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re:

    Criminalize every business, then shut down the ones that don't pay "campaign contributions". Nice racket.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:33am

    Snowden's advice

    With Snowden as their 'security advisor' it was only a matter of time !!!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:34am

    If I ever get arrested for shooting up I think I will the for the children defense. I'm taking it off the streets one gram at a time. Honestly I'm a hero because I'm ridding the streets of illegal narcotics by using them all up before any kids get a chance.

    Illegal is completely legal as long as it's for the children.

     

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  21.  
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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re:

    Don't be silly, that would cost people money, you'll just have to apply for a VPN licence, pay a processing fee and agree to have the traffic logged just in case someone tries to be naughty.

     

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  22.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    It's open source. Also, it seems you don't understand what you are talking about.

    See https://www.torproject.org/docs/bridges.html

     

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  23.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    Would it kill you to read facts before name-calling and spewing falsehoods? Lying about either technical facts or the people you're trying to address still doesn't get you anything other than mockery.

    Well, at least you came out with a ridiculous conspiracy theory that didn't contain the word "Google" for once, so there's that.

     

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  24. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:47am

    Show's that Snowden is for political gains

    and not anything to do with "right" it's Russia taking an opportunity to give the finger to the US, Snowden is no more than a pawn in a much larger game.

    It also shows that not only it about NSA and 'freedoms' it's about if you have some power, you use it, that includes EVERYONE, including you !!!

    You don't like censorship yet if you are given the power to censor you will use it, happens here on TD every day.

    So if the freedom loving Masnicks on TD will employ the tools in their power to block, censor and supress speech or freedoms YOU WILL !!!

    So will the US, Government departments, foreign Governments, security organizations, Tech Dirt, PJ from Groklaw, Masnick.

    You all do it, but I guess when you do it 'it's right' but if anyone else does it, it's criminal and evil..

    How many phone calls or emails have you not been able to send or make because of the NSA ?

     

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  25.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re:

    I'm going to guess that this will be used more as an "aha, we see you have tor/proxies so use that as an excuse to lock you up" rather than actually detecting any particular activity.

    After all, such services are often used by people reporting on human rights and other abuses by governments. It would be handy for government to be able to shut down people reporting such things merely by making the tools illegal to operate in and of themselves.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re:

    I believe the Chinese block Tor by reconnecting to every SSL socket that is opened and determining whether or not it is actually an SSL server. If they find one that is not an SSL server they block the IP.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    being open source and decentralized does not mean it cannot be blocked !

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:54am

    Yawn...

    Let's assume they succeed...which they won't.

    We'll simply develop something else and route around them.

     

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  29.  
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    Anon E. Mous (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    John, how's that suing people for copyright infringement for downloading your seeded porn files going?

    Back to chasing ambulances yet? Let me know when you get settled in at the pen, I have some soap on a rope to send you, just need your inmate number. Cheers

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    esquireLLC, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 5:56am

    better pay your property tax and child support

    I canít wait until we have to login to the 'internet' with our government issued licenses. Remember using the internet is a privilege not a right, so if you misbehave they can take that away without any real due process.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Ghis, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 6:03am

    The world doesn't care about children. Abortion, exploitation, drone strikes, maiming with vaccines, etc. This is an excuse as you stated.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    theotherDude, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 6:12am

    need to fight like the NRA

    OMG, if they outlaw TOR, then only outlaws will have TOR!

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    Actually, TOR is a US Military project, if you consider that the idea it's based on (the Internet) was a US Military project. Without that technology, TOR couldn't exist.

    And the ultimate karmic justice is that that US has, since the early 20s, created the enemies it fights (from Prohibition, through the Great Depression, wartime, through to Communism, The Movement, Cold War, and in the modern day, Al-Qa'ida and the IRA.)

    And neither it nor Russia have learned - those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Wolfy, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 6:18am

    I surprised they haven't been blocking tor all along... given who the FSB is and where they came from.

     

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  35.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 6:32am

    Re: better pay your property tax and child support

    Heh, that would cause people to go apeshit even worse than SOPA did.

    I'm sure the government would LOVE to have its phones going off the hook for hours on end with no reprieve.

     

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  36.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    It means that such blocks tend to be ineffective as there's no central hub to shut down and the code can be changed quickly to route around any blocks. Not perfect perhaps, but a long way from being controlled by the US government - even if the original code was untrustworthy by default association, it could be changed to something trustworthy by those with the inclination to do so.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 7:34am

    Over time, all this is logically going to force an increasing number of people to actually learn more about the Internet, which will logically increase the number of people that will be able to contribute to its anonymity and freedom. In other words, more control, more hackers. In addition, due to the very nature of the fight (i.e find one way to defeat control vs. control everything), elegance will remain on the side of the opposition and brute force will remain on the side of the Empire.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Re:

    Paypal is already banning VPN services... Governments are already starting to regulate Bitcoin... Spying will continue... War will continue...

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    t0r, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 8:51am

    john gilmore said it best:

    "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

     

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  40.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 9:11am

    China "blocks" Tor

    China's official policy is that Tor is forbidden, and they've been doing their best to block it for years. They're less than successful... the whole thing has boiled down to a game of whack-a-mole.

     

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  41.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 21st, 2013 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's how they used to do it -- but Tor was changed so that was no longer effective. Now, I believe -- although my knowledge is likely dated -- China runs Tor nodes itself and blocks IP addresses that connect to them.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Blocking TOR

    You wish, darryl.

    Your solar panels wouldn't last to that strength of blocking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: better pay your property tax and child support

    And what would those "people" do, cry a bit, then go back to watching TV & Work, Eat & Sleep, then just get used to the new rules.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 11:18am

    the war on anonymity

    The war on anonymity is already here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    jingoi, Aug 21st, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    I'm really tired of this. We might as well give us, the people are too stupid to realize these blocks have little to do with getting rid of child porn which already works well or "protecting the children from porn". It's all about preventing us from learning how effed up our government is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    RonKaminsky (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 5:28am

    Makes any moral dillema less of a dillema

    If anyone had previously been considering running a darknet node, but was concerned over inadvertently aiding activities they did not approve of (whatever your personal "bete noir" is), these kinds of national initiatives (bans like Russia and China, fishing/snooping like US) may make it easier for them to decide in favor of the benefits of the darknet vs. whatever detriments they see in it.

    I know it's for sure pushing me in that direction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Liam, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:57am

    ipfilterX

    I think that a good old solution is to use an ipfilter
    to mitigate the spies hits and much other .
    I do use ipfilterX and it's great .
    Get proper info at p2pblocklist.net .
    There also a discussion about VPNs and their vulnerable features .

    My 2 cent .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Truth Teller, Feb 15th, 2014 @ 12:49am

    As if it even matters

    Blocking TOR means nothing. There are plenty of other proxy sites online already and blocking one just creates many more.
    There will always be a way for people to get what they want on the internet, obviously however that means that lowest of humanity will get their fix but it also means that "data crusaders" will be able to expose much needed truths.
    It's not a black and white issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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