Target: Francois Hollande, President of France
Goal: Do not sacrifice the privacy of all citizens in the name of combating terrorism.
The French government is proposing a ban on the anonymous Tor network in the wake of the Paris attacks. The Tor network provides an encrypted internet connection funneled through various points, which makes users difficult or impossible to trace. The network is used for many legitimate pursuits, including journalism, whistle-blowing, and even the simple protection of one’s online privacy.
Though the French government is citing recent terrorist attacks as the basis for this proposed ban, several media sources have reported that the attackers used unencrypted SMS text messages to communicate. This means that terrorists like those who committed the atrocities in Paris would not be hindered by the ban, leaving journalists and those concerned about their privacy the only ones affected.
Some countries have tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to implement similar bans on the Tor network. The Chinese government, which places restrictions on freedoms of press, association, and religion and tightly regulates the internet has blocked access to the network’s entry nodes. The volunteers that run the network have found a way to circumvent these ban attempts by setting up “bridges” that will connect to these entry nodes from countries in which they are banned.
While it is important that governments do everything possible to combat terrorism, restricting the privacy of all citizens is not only an ineffective way of combating terrorism, but will have a negative effect on the French democracy as a whole. Rather than mass surveillance, the government should focus only on specific targets suspected of terrorist ties. Sign the petition below to ask France not to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of fear.
Dear President Hollande,
The French government recently announced a proposal to ban the Tor anonymity network in the interest of combating terrorism. Using China as an example, we can see that this widespread attack on internet privacy would be ineffective due to the existence of bridges, which can connect to Tor entry nodes undetected.
The fact that the attackers used unencrypted text messages to communicate suggests that targeted surveillance could be far more effective than mass surveillance at gathering intelligence related to terrorist plans. Rather than taking civil liberties away from French journalists, whistle-blowers, and privacy advocates, France should consider a more effective approach. We, the undersigned, ask that you reconsider the ban on Tor and focus instead on targeting only those who pose a true threat.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tor Project