TorStevenMurdoch_Eva13, the free privacy protecting software, occupies an undeserved and unenviable space in today’s tech biosphere.

On the one hand, it is (deservedly) held as a bastion of privacy and anonymisation in a digital realm where everyone from criminals to corporations to governments are trying to harvest every last screed of information from users (often with scant rules as to the legal, moral or ethical justification for such practices).

On the other hand, it sits alongside drug marketplaces and illegal content in headline-grabbing titbits on the dark web.

There are plenty of resources to check out what Tor is and does (from The Guardian, Digital Trends, and naturally the Tor Project itself) and we would strongly suggest checking them out. Why? We’ll hand over to the Tor project itself to explain:

“Using Tor protects you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as ‘traffic analysis'”


“Using Tor protects you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as ‘traffic analysis’. Traffic analysis can be used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. This can impact your checkbook if, for example, an e-commerce site uses price discrimination based on your country or institution of origin. It can even threaten your job and physical safety by revealing who and where you are.

“For example, if you’re travelling abroad and you connect to your employer’s computers to check or send mail, you can inadvertently reveal your national origin and professional affiliation to anyone observing the network, even if the connection is encrypted.”

Good or evil?

While a case can be made for Tor’s use for good or for bad, it’s curious to see government agencies in the USA actively trying to undermine the technology whilst other branches of the same institution are funnelling the project funds.

We’re delighted to announce that Steven Murdoch will be speaking at this year’s Bath Digital Festival on “Anonymous Communications and Tor: History and Future Challenges”. Steven is a member of the Tor Project and the Principal Research Fellow in the Information Security Research Group of the Department of Computer Science at University College London.

Tor is not only a fascinating and technologically sophisticated achievement, it is a cornerstone of our rights to privacy online, as digital citizens. Come along to Steven’s talk on Friday 31st October to learn more about Tor and what it means for the future of anonymous communications.

Get tickets for the talkFind out more about Steven and his interests.and the Tor Project. See all the events being held as part of the Bath Digital Festival.

Picture credit: Roland Eva