News Orgs & Activists: Onionize Your Sites Against Censorship
In many countries, censorship of websites with critical information or news is commonplace. If opinions, analysis, or facts contrary to the country’s narrative are published, repressive governments can quickly silence those voices by blocking access to those websites.
For instance, in September 2017, one day after Human Rights Watch released a report on systematic torture in Egypt’s jails, Egypt blocked access to the HRW website, curtailing its people’s access to the report and leaving them uninformed about their own countries treatment of its citizens. Egypt has also blocked numerous news sites, including Al Jazeera, so when AJ reported on Egypt’s block of HRW after the report on torture was released, the most critical audience, the Egyptian people, were less likely to be reached.
Publishing a website using onion services over the Tor network is a way to circumvent many state-led methods of censorship. These website addresses end in the TLD .onion. Similar to how the https:// protocol of a website provides more security than the http:// protocol, an onion address also appears to be the same site but gives a visitor more privacy and security through end-to-end encryption and improved authentication.
Visiting an onion address is easy. All that’s needed is Tor Browser (Tor Browser is built from Firefox and is similar to use); you visit the onion address in Tor Browser like you visit any web address.
Here’s the onion address of torproject.org: http://expyuzz4wqqyqhjn.onion/
Download Tor Browser and check them out.
If your organization’s site is already blocked anywhere in the world, or if you are calling out injustices, sharing state-suppressed resources, or just want to provide your site and users with better privacy and security, creating an onion version of your website should be your next step.
Alec Muffett, a security researcher and longtime member of the Tor Community, has created the Enterprise Onion Toolkit (EOTK) to make it easier for you to give a public site a corresponding onion address. You can ping Alec on Twitter or join the EOTK mailing list if you have any questions about how to use it.
We want a free and open internet for all, so let’s onionize and build it.