Internet Freedom, Privacy, & LGBTQIA+ Human Rights
Every June, we recognize Pride month because internet freedom and the human rights of LGBTQIA+ people go hand in hand.
LGBTQIA+ people have the right to access information, resources, and community relevant to their identities without being tracked, surveilled, censored, or persecuted—but in many parts of the world, governments block LGBTQIA+ content and punish people who engage with it.
- In Russia, people face fines, prison sentences, intimidation, and violence for posting LGBTQIA+ content. In 2020, an activist was fined 75,000 rubles for posting a photo with the words, "Family is where the Love is. Support LGBT+ families."
- In Indonesia, LGBTQIA+ content, services, apps, and even emojis depicting LGBTQIA+ themes are frequently blocked or removed from app stores, with big tech complying with demands to censor this content. In 2018, Indonesian authorities purchased surveillance tools to track LGBTQIA+ rights activists.
- In Uganda, the LGBTQIA+ community is the target of regular technical attacks. Activists are hacked and surveilled, and attackers use content from hacked accounts to blackmail LGBTQIA+ people in the spotlight.
- In the United States, public schools are required by federal law to use software to block pornographic websites, but schools often use that software to block sites that discuss LGBTQIA+ issues and resources that are not sexually explicit in any way.
- In Egypt, authories used the social networking app Grindr to track down and persecute LGBTQIA+ people by using fake profiles to gather evidence that is used to imprison, torture, and prosecute LGBTQIA+ people for “illegal sexual behavior.”
Globally, many LGBTQIA+ people need privacy and censorship circumvention tools like Tor to communicate with their peers, find important resources, or fight for their rights without facing violence.
This is one of the many reasons why we do what we do at the Tor Project, and it’s the reason we monitor the availability of LGBTQ+ sites in OONI tests, so we can better understand which countries are censoring these sites and who needs circumvention technology. (You can help monitor internet censorship, including against LGBTQIA+ sites, by running OONI Probe.) That’s why we travel to countries where governments outlaw or punish being LGBTQIA+ and lead workshops for community organizations about how to protect their privacy online. That’s why we partner with LGBTQIA+ groups to ensure that we’re learning about how they use privacy tech, and what they need from Tor in order to stay safe when using the internet.
Pride and privacy go hand in hand. This June and year round, the Tor Project stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. Happy Pride!