Tor, The Onion Router, has been around for years and has helped millions of people surf in privacy while frustrating attempts to censor and track traffic.
Russian censors are currently finding out just how difficult it is to block their people from finding out what’s really going on in the world thanks to the network.
Tor is often slow, difficult to understand and comes with lots of new things to learn. But it is also reliable and can circumvent almost any type of tracking, blocking and censorship known to man.
Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor has been trying to block Tor since forever. Since their attack on Ukraine, the Russians have been working harder than ever to stop the truth from bring free.
To no avail.
“We are being attacked by the Russian government, they are trying to block Tor,” says Gustavo Gus, community team lead of the Tor Project. “The fight is not over,” Gus says. “People can connect to Tor. People can easily bypass censorship.”
Tor’s main challenge is letting people know it’s there. If they market or advertise too much, hostile states will redouble their efforts to block them.
If they don’t market or advertise they are there, not enough people will know about Tor and how it can help people access information.
China is the only country that has had any success blocking Tor. This is largely down to central control over the internet in the country. It’s easier to control what comes in and what goes out when the government controls the gateways.
Russia’s internet infrastructure is more widespread. Individual ISPs are responsible for enacting censorship and following Roskomnadzor’s blocking instructions.
The vast majority of ISPs conform, as the alternative isn’t good business; however, it seems slow and sporadic.
In the meantime, Russians and those living in Russian occupied territories can use Tor to access the entire internet. They can access news from anywhere, compare sources and verify all the news they are exposed to.
They can find out the truth and access the huge repository of information like the rest of us do. For better or worse, use tools like Tor and the entirely of the internet is open to you!