Tor Creator Coming into FBI Focus

May 18, 2016
By: Maurice Nagle

Security or privacy? Privacy or security? This tightrope is something making its presence felt more than ever in technology. The world stood witness to the recent Apple (News - Alert) / FBI kerfuffle; Apple stood resolute in its principle and fended off of the feds for the time being. But this is far more than Apple’s war to wage, and that leads us back to the original question: Security or privacy?

Tor is a free download that provides its users anonymity on the Internet, initially designed to protect U.S. intelligence communications, it is today being leveraged for both good and “evil.” Actually, just last week one of its creators discussed the software’s inception and business use cases at Inside Dark Web.

Created to provide a safe place for government agencies and whistle blowers to communicate in a secure fashion, the Dark Web over time evolved into a breeding ground for illegal activity. From child pornography to illicit drugs, you can find on the Dark Web. Which brings us back to where we started: security or privacy?

The most recent tech faction under fire is Tor, so much so it has led one of the software’s developers to leave the country and hire a lawyer. CNNMoney reported Tuesday the developer who goes by the name Asis Agora Lovecruft, is avoiding an FBI subpoena to testify in a criminal hacking investigation. Days before her “escape,” Lovecruft was willing to sit and discuss FBI concerns with her lawyer present, but her lawyer was told he was not to be part of the discussion if that is, the FBI wish the discussion were to happen. Several days later, on Dec. 7 2015, Lovecruft left the country for Germany in response to the FBI visiting her and family members.

"I was worried they'd ask me to do something that hurts innocent people – and prevent me from telling people it's happening,” explained Lovecruft.

Aside from the laundry list of nefarious acts, the Dark Web serves as a safe place for some very positive work. Ranging from women’s rights research, whistleblowers, and the military to business executives and journalists, Tor provides the anonymity required and by offering a view by the curtain, Lovecruft would betray years of work.

She noted, "That would undermine all the work that we do to protect human rights activists, women researching birth control... all these people need privacy. They need what Tor provides," she said. "I would not undermine that."

At this point, it is unclear when Lovecruft will return to the United States. In April, the FBI inquired as to where they could send her a subpoena, which leads me to believe this “prodigal” daughter is not returning anytime soon. As she told CNNMoney, "I don't know what they want. I don't know what happens to me if I go back." Only time will tell, stay tuned as this is merely the beginning.

Which is it, security or privacy?




Edited by Stefania Viscusi