Imagine How The FBI And NSA Would Flip Out If Tor Browsing Was Built Into Firefox Or Chrome?

from the things-could-get-interesting dept

All last week, we saw law enforcement types freaking out about the news that Apple and Google were making phone encryption a default. While a good step in the right direction, this was really kind of a minor thing, only protecting a small bit of information — and yet law enforcement folks went nuts.

So just imagine how crazy they’ll go if Tor were embedded directly into Firefox as the default “private browsing mode,” as was recently hinted at by Tor exec director Andrew Lewman. Even though private browsing mode still isn’t even used that much, adding Tor automatically to it would be quite handy for those who wish to have greater control over their privacy, but haven’t gone through the trouble of setting up Tor themselves. Lewman didn’t name the browser that has been thinking about this, but did say it had 10 to 20% of the market, which suggests Firefox is the most likely partner. Though, frankly, it would be nice to see this as a feature on all browsers.

Still, I imagine that if that happens, we’ll see a similar freakout from the FBI, DOJ, NSA and others, insisting that actually protecting user privacy is somehow better enabling criminals and terrorists. Of course, the truth is that most criminals and terrorists do plenty of other things to reveal themselves. Very, very, very few people are competently able to hide any and all behavior against even semi-competent detective and intelligence work. But what further expanding Tor can do is better protect perfectly legal and innocent behavior from being tracked and abused.

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Comments on “Imagine How The FBI And NSA Would Flip Out If Tor Browsing Was Built Into Firefox Or Chrome?”

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tomczerniawski (profile) says:

Re: I can take a guess...

Civilization as I know it has already ceased to exist. I thought the civilization I inhabited was above spying on its own citizens. I thought spying on their own citizens was what made the Russian and Chinese civilizations bad, and ours good, because ours would never stoop to such depths.

I’ve rapidly gone from believing our western governments to be ethical and moral beacons to the world, champions of civilization all, to considering them the direst threat to my safety and well-being in existence. Nowadays I can’t decide whether to leave, or stick around and watch it all come apart.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I can take a guess...

well, TorBrowser IS Firefox with the TOR plugin added and some settings tweaked. So it wouldn’t take much to roll it into the mainline build as default for privacy mode.

Hopefully it’ll make civilization as we know it cease to exist and replace it with civilization as we’d like it — but I’m not holding my breath.

DannyB (profile) says:

We don't have to imagine

It will get built in to some browser, at some point.
It’s inevitable.
They will freak out.
Pull up a chair and let’s watch it happen.
(The MPAA will complain about how TOR is responsible for all piracy, except when it’s Google’s fault; and this clearly hurts corn farmers, so, I reluctantly add…)
Grab a popcorn.

tomczerniawski (profile) says:

FBI director James Comey: “If TOR comes to Firefox, your children will inject heroin and ebola directly into their eyeballs, defect to ISIS, and produce child pornography. Pandemonium! Cats and dogs living together! Mass hysteria!”

Anyway, TOR is probably already compromised. Keep in mind who made the damn thing in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s open-source, distributed and multiple NSA-leaked documents refer to it as the bane of their existence, so no, it most likely isn’t compromised. If they cracked it, we’d have heard about it by now.

I thought those were FBI-leaked documents that refer to it as the bane of their existence — I thought the NSA-leaked documents showed that they owned a large portion of the exit nodes and were using the data gathered to flag things up for parallel reconstruction.

Of course, it was misuse of Tor that got Silk Road flagged and shut down (one of the widgets on one of the pages was pulling data from a static IP, it wasn’t properly routed), so I think for many purposes, TOR is secure, and for some purposes it is broken by design.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

” they owned a large portion of the exit nodes and were using the data gathered to flag things up for parallel reconstruction.”

This is a long way from “breaking” Tor. Exit nodes don’t know who they are carrying the traffic for, so compromising them doesn’t really get you anything beyond what you could get just by sniffing the traffic through the ISP.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Andy Griffith

You mean those switchboard operators who were notorious for listening in to the phone conversations that went through their boards? Once of the benefits that was touted for automatic number dialing was increased privacy because the switchboard operator was no longer there to listen to the calls or keep track of who is calling who.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "...default 'private browsing mode'..."

One of the problems with TOR performance is the use of asymmetric speeds for domestic Internet connections. This limits throughput on relay nodes. This results in home TOR nodes having much less outbound capacity that their inbound capacity. There is not a lot that TOR developers can do about this, and putting TOR nodes in data-centers makes it that much easier for the spy agencies to gain access to doctor them.

Anonymous Coward says:

when freedom and privacy are threatened, people willlook to methods of preserving them. just because the security forces dont like it, doesn’t mean you should preserve things for yourself or through the help of others.
i just read where UK prime minister, Cameron, is going to remove the Human Rights law. im just wondering whether he will be allowed to get away with that? he’s trying to not only go down the same road as the US government, he’s trying to out do it! when hundreds of thousands of protestors are demonstrating in Hong Kong, trying to get civil rights, human rights, freedom and privacy, ie a democracy, Cameron is actively trying to destroy it! what the hell is wrong with these governments?

Lesnik Volkanow says:

Will not happen

Tor in Firefox? Will not happen! First, Mozilla is on a short dog line at the hand of Google, so even if Mozilla would REALLY want it, Google would forbid them in doing so.

But what is much more realistic.. Firefox is anyway compromised… adding DRM, supporting ads, integrating Google services more and more! I would rather recommend trusting in Seamonkey instead of Firefox these days.

Mozilla turned more and more moronic after Google shoved tons of money into their a…….!

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