Spread the word about Tor

To all Tor advocates,

For all of you who want to spread the word about Tor at a symposium or conference and need printed materials, we finally have something for you:

Download these brochures here:

LanguageAvailable formats
Brazilian PortuguesePDFODGTXT

EDIT: Adding new translations as they come in (thanks, folks!). If you're considering translating these brochures, please contact us first at tor-assistants@lists.torproject.org to make sure nobody else is already working on the same translation.

There are three different versions of the brochure, all with the same front and different backs:

  1. Law Enforcement & The Tor Project: Geared as a quick reference for law enforcement audiences (not just investigators, but also support services).
  2. The Benefits of Anonymity Online: This is meant for journalists, domestic violence organizations, and others focused on protecting their identity online.
  3. Freedom & Privacy Online: The target audience here is the general public - helping educate people about the reasons that protecting their privacy is important.

Feel free to use these brochures to spread the word about Tor. And just in case you're new to Tor and wondering whether you're permitted to use these brochures: yes, absolutely! We really want people to talk about Tor. Even if you don't have good answers for all the questions people might come up with, these brochures might serve you as a guidance.

Need a stack of these for an event? Contact us, tell us about the event and how many brochures and which of the three versions you need, and we'll mail them to you. Note that we might ask you to write a trip report and give us some feedback on the brochures in exchange.

Also, we will be offering updated versions of these brochures on an ongoing basis.

Thanks for spreading the word about Tor!


April 08, 2015


In several tor-talk posts over the years, posters have cited the so-called "base rate fallacy". (I'd offer a link but search engines failed to find any of the tor-talk posts I have in mind). Unfortunately the Wikipedia article


is not at all good in explaining this fallacy, and doesn't mention that it applies to dragnet surveillance. The fallacy IS clearly discussed in many textbooks on statistics and probability theory, but in contexts such as a hypothetical dragnet medical screening for a rare but deadly illness, again obscuring its applicability to dragnet surveillance.

This is very unfortunate because IMHO this fallacy provides a simple argument which undermines the very basis of the Surveillance State, at least if we accept at face value the claim that the purpose of dragnet surveillance is to prevent acts of terrorism. The point is that such acts are very rare, and Bayes's formula shows quite clearly why attempts to predict in advance the occurrence of very rare events

o won't work

o will gravely harm large numbers of innocent persons flagged by the dragnet as a "potential future terrorist".

Depending on the audience, one can amplify the argument by explaining why repeated sequential application of Bayes's formula assumes statistically independent events, an assumption which is very strong and surely invalid in the context of dragnet surveillance which attempts to predict in advance who will commit very rare and very specific types of events. One can go further by considering the invariant measure for the transformation underlying any one application of the Bayes's formula.

The urgency of making this argument is amplified by the fact that NCTC has begun to introduce checklists designed in ignorance of the fallacy, which educators, social workers, and other officials are asked to use in order to target children for a lifetime of "selectee status" and other state-sponsored discrimination.

Accordingly I suggest that arma collaborate with a leading mathematical dissident (Edward Frenkel? Keith Devlin?) an essay which attempts to explain for a general audience what the base rate fallacy says and what it implies about dragnet surveillance. This could then be "shopped" to high visibility publications such as Scientific American, New Scientist, even Harpers or The Atlantic.


April 08, 2015


These slides are great and this is the right step to get the message out to the masses.

Some personal observations, which I feel worth mentioning:

"Criminals who are willing to break the law already have more effective options than using Tor."
- I dont believe that criminals are worth to mention at all, wheather they use Tor or not is irrelevant; after all criminals also use the internet - so what - does that stop everybody else from using the internet?
On a side note; if a more effective method exists to protect the reader and his privacy - why should he even consider using Tor?
And sarcastically - Please teach me and everybody else this more effective method, so we can start using it.
That space, if removed, could be used for other information, i.e. "Citizens of repressive regimes, like (China?), use Tor to ensure they do not face prison terms for telling the truth or their very opionion"

"How Tor works" - this appears on every page, but the first.
I struggled to comprehend this scheme at first sight and believe the ordinary internetuser may be overwhelmed when reading encryption or layers of encryption. The repetition of this scheme takes up valuable space that could also be used for additional information or to shorten the document.
I personally find the established graphic with the 9 relays between Alice and Bob much easier to understand. (Meaning the one depicted on torproject.org)

Last not least, if the document only had one or two pages, it had more chance to be read by people who nowadays may expect information to be received in a few strong bullets or headlines.

I concur that criminals should need no mention. LEA is always after Tor, mainly mantraing that it is solely used by criminals. While we know this is not the case, this mantra serves the purpose to keep the masses off Tor (and "in the fangs of NSA, Google & Co".

There is nothing in this world that has a primary positive use but cannot be used in a criminal way: Cars, knifes, baseball bats, paper, fingers, words, ... you name it - I am sure some criminal can come up with an idea to abuse it.

Would we be mantraing that knifes are only used by criminals often enough repeated to the point that people start to believe they can be thrown into prison by only owning a knife, this would not only drop knife sales, but also people would start breaking and not cutting bread again.

To me the criminal mantra is like the question : "Do you still beat up your partner?"

There is no right answer to that question and commenting on it in any wayis admitting to the fact one actually beats up their partner.

In my opinion ignoring and not commenting at all will serve the project a much more positive picture.


April 08, 2015


Please delete my prior 3 page repetition of the "How Tor Works" comment - just realised I misunderstood the brochure - while looking at it - apologies ;)


April 08, 2015


> collaborate with a leading mathematical dissident (Edward Frenkel? Keith Devlin?) on an essay

Bruce Schneier?

He's already written the first draft of the proposed essay:

Terrorists, Data Mining, and the Base Rate Fallacy

But the essay I have in mind would be far more ambitious. It should:

o explain conditional probabilities for novices

o explain independent events

o state Bayes's formula

o explain it using the same values for the probabilities for

+ dragnet (medical) surveillance for a very rare but deadly disease

+ dragnet surveillance for alleged potential future terrorism

o contrast the awful results (almost everyone who "tests positive" would never commit a terrorist act, but will suffer serious consequences from the fact that the government believes otherwise) with events having "not highly improbable" or "highly likely" base rates, such as spam-mail,

o exploit the voluminous comments on Schneier's post to anticipate and debunk some of the more common responses (for example: yes, NSA/CIA know all about this math, in fact the CIA handbook for analysts even explains a weak form of the fallacy, but this doesn't imply that NSA would not spend dozens of billions per year on dragnet surveillance it knows wont work as counter-terrorism--- because counter-terrorism is not the true purpose of the dragnet),

o explain why proposals to simply sequentially apply Bayes formula using many allegedly "independent" tests are also mathematically dubious (since the base rate is so low, you simply get more chances to observe unusual fluctuations, thus harming more people with lifelong state-sponsored discrimination),

o explain why dynamical systems (think invariant measure) suggests that even if huge numbers of truly independent tests for "terrorism proclivities" could somehow be found (surely an impossible dream), the result would a society with almost everyone in prison (but with almost all of these political prisoners being quite harmless), and of the small remaining population still roaming free, equal parts extraordinarily dangerous and extraordinarily harmless.

(I have not yet had the chance to read his most recent book, on Big Data; maybe he does all of these things in that book.)

Writing the article would be a significant expository challenge, but Bruce Schneier is certainly one of the authors most capable of successfully meeting that challenge. Plus, he sits on the EFF advisory board.

Also useful: two sites which use the same basic math in the context of medical testing:

False Positives and the Base Rate Fallacy

The p value and the base rate fallacy

Persuading Schneier to write such an essay would be an enormous accomplishment, although it's a bit depressing to realize that the world's best known crypto writer pointed out the problem almost ten years ago, yet the US Federal Congress is set to approve yet another vast enlargement of the extent and intrusiveness of the existing domestic dragnet, on the grounds of "combating terrorism".

IMO, the most important untold story related to the Snowden leaks is an enormous story which is not even secret, not really, the extent to which the USG is using "agent-based" "microsimulation" to model the future behavior of every citizen, and by applying "tailored" "suasion" programs, to nudge them toward behavior more suited to the agenda of the one per cent. Another relevant buzzword here is "algorithmic governance" or "algorithmic regulation":


This has been touted in too many USG documents to count, but it has drawn acute criticism from Evgeny Morozov:

Big Data, Small Politics: Algorithmic Regulation and Its Pitfalls
Evgeny Morozov
10 Apr 2014

Another point worth making when you lobby Congress: the foundation of Judeo-Christian ethics, the Golden Rule, states "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (hence, don't make unprovoked attacks, unless you want to invite like treatment from other parties). In his recent book, the well known American philosopher T. J. Kaczynski proposes to add a rider which I regard as a very dangerous innovation: "but it is OK to harm someone if you think he is going to harm you" (paraphrasing).

But of course this principle, which would authorize all manner of "pre-emptive strikes", is precisely the principle invoked by PM Benjamin Netanyahu (and John Bolton and...) when they urge a military assault on Iran:

John Bolton Wants Israel to Attack Iran
Allison Killkenny
25 May 2011

And this is precisely the principle FBI wants "authority" to apply to ordinary citizens, when it sends malware to everyone visiting a HS, on the principle that any of those people might be "doing something wrong". And this is precisely the modification which FBI Directory Comey will enshrine in US law, unless all of the following occur:

o CISA fails to pass,

o the proposed change to Rule 41(b) is prohibited by an Act of Congress,

o the recent EO declaring a "national emergency" and authorizing eternal cyberwar on ordinary citizens is successfully challenged in the US Supreme Court.

It is not very surprising that Comey has closely studied the writings of Kaczynski, but it IS surprising that he has enthusiastically and uncritically adopted the ethics of the "Unabomber".

What does it mean when the chief law enforcement officer of the sole superpower believes it is necessary and appropriate to use the ethics of the prison yard (which Kaczynski specifically cites as his inspiration)? It means that if Comey gets his way, this is what the future holds for us all:

David Fathi
Everything That Is Wrong With US Prisons in One Picture
7 Apr 2015


April 09, 2015


As Tor Project becomes more politically active, should it consider joining coalitions like this?

New Coalition Site Fight215.org Launches to Amplify Opposition to the NSA’s Mass Surveillance
Nadia Kayyali
8 Apr 2015

Going even further

o should Tor Project endorse candidates?

o should Tor Project join HRW, EFF and others in letter-writing campaigns seeking the release of specific imprisoned bloggers in oppressive countries such as Bahrain, Iran, Vietnam, Russia, China, USA?

Should we discuss pros and cons in deciding how far the Project should go in taking a stance on political topics?

My first thoughts, for what it is worth, is that the Project should join some carefully selected coalitions seeking, by political means, to thwart NSA's desire to conduce eternal dragnet surveillance of all peoples everywhere.


April 09, 2015


> in the spirit of Banksy, a public memorial honoring Edward Snowden has just been dedicated in NYC

Also, in the spirit of the "liberty poles" which sprang up all over British America in 1775:


The redcoats reliably responded much as NYC Parks & Rec responded earlier this week to the Snowden monument, by attacking the poles with an axe. In NYC, in 1775, the People responded by erecting their next liberty pole inside an iron cage, which proved capable of resisting the destructive efforts of the British occupying forces.

"Oi", you say, "poles springing up all over America?!" I can't reply "get yer mind out of the gutter" because the Roman version of the liberty pole-- most American revolutionary war iconography referenced the Roman republic-- certainly derives from fertility rituals. This is the kind of semi-naughty fact which tends to be omitted from American textbooks, but which might make history class seem momentarily interesting so some students.

Strange as it may sound, NSA bosses have expressed great concern that all those d**k pics are corrupting the morals of their often youthful operatives. This is why they put out a gravely serious tender seeking improved d**k pick filtering software for XKeyscore.

Strange times, strange times.


April 10, 2015


US govt BANS Intel from selling chips to China's supercomputer boffins
Iain Thomson
10 Apr 2015

This kind of ban seems likely to rapidly expand from "hostile states" to NGOs. After enough time for the US public to become accustomed to hearing about bans of "known criminals" [sic], could the USG ban US companies from selling hardware to Human Rights Watch? The Tor or Tails developers? If they can and do, what is our plan?


April 23, 2015


Tor users: we are the future!


Generation Snowden
Anthony D. Romero
21 Apr 2015

"The message to the authorities could not be clearer: Snowden is not going away. A large and important segment of our society sees Snowden as hero and whistleblower — and its members are the future... When millennials translate their political ideals into public policy, the future will be more in the spirit of 1776 than 1984, and Snowden will assume his place in American history as whistleblower and patriot. The establishment might not like him now, but one day, it will erect a monument honoring him."