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Tor calls for help as Russia blocks privacy service to tighten internet control

Tor calls for help as Russia blocks privacy service to tighten internet control

The Onion Router, popularly known as Tor, has appealed to the international community to intervene after Russian authorities blocked the web anonymity service in the country. 

In a blog post, Tor indicated that international lobby groups should call on Russia to restore normal services to avoid possible risks that might come with the ban.

According to Tor, censorship could open room for the emergence of malicious actors who can create fake Tor browsers for hacking and the spread of misinformation.

“As this instance of censorship limits direct access to our website, malicious actors could start phishing users with fake Tor Browsers or spreading disinformation about Tor<…>International digital rights and human rights organizations must pressure Russia’s government to revert this censorship immediately,” the blog post reads. 

Tor notes that over 300,000 Russian users began experiencing challenges accessing the platform daily from December 1st. The restriction is a blow to Tor considering that Russia accounts for the second-highest users. 

The Tor restriction is part of Russia’s widescale crackdown targeting foreign tech companies as the country moves to ban content shared on the platforms. As part of the censorship, the authorities have previously targeted virtual private networks (VPN) services providers used to bypass the local restrictions. 

Tor accused of hosting illegal activities

According to Russian authorities, Tor hosts illegal activities, including drug and gun sales.

Russia’s internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, maintained that the ban was merely following a court order. In a statement, Roskomnadzor said that the platform enables the operation of tools that provide access to unlawful content.

However, local internet activists believe the move is part of the government’s ongoing crackdown on internet freedom.

To help bypass the restriction, Tor has established a mirror website to keep its Russian users updated on the latest developments. 

Furthermore, the platform encourages volunteers to spin up a Tor bridge to help keep more Russians online amid the current crackdown.

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