Alarming new information has come to light from far away Russia about the country’s policy on internet anonymity. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has set a bounty pool on Tor users’ heads. Tor is an anonymizing network, free of charge, originally designed for the U.S. navy and it protects its users from any kind of outside tracking system or identification protocol. Tor also defends you from traffic analysis and location access. Tor is appreciated by many because it offers a safe and secure channel of communication for victims of violence, confidential dialogue and projects, offering the possibility of hiding the location of a site you created and keeping confidential information where it should be.
Tor sounds interesting, right? It’s not the easiest to get used to and discover all its amazing functions and features, but it is well worth the effort because a large majority of people, companies and government agencies have not yet been able to trump Tor’s secure network. Some would say if you can’t beat them, join them. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs thinks otherwise, though. They have set a bounty pool on the heads of Tor users and called for participants in the bounty hunt, who actually pay an entry-fee to participate in the hunt. The participants will be rewarded with cash if they bring in information with which the police can identify and apprehend Tor users.
Russia is not fond of privacy and individualism in other matters either. Allegedly, the Russian government requires bloggers who have over 3000 visitors a day to register their identities with the government. Russia seems to meddle a bit in online activity and sets a bad example for technological research. The fact that users of the internet need to provide location and identity data is very controversial all over the world and a hot topic at many conferences, and among many legislators and lobbyist, each with their own idea. As we watch the Russian decision unfold, we hope we learn something from it regardless of its direction.