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Tor moves to court challenging Russia’s ban on the browser

Tor moves to court challenging Russia’s ban on the browser

The Onion Router, popularly known as Tor (or Tor Project), has moved to court, challenging Russia’s decision to block the anonymous browser in the country.  

In a statement shared with Finbold, Tor said the ground of its appeal is based on the view that the ban was approved without the court allowing the participation of representatives from the browser.

According to Tor, the ban by Saratov District Court violated the procedural rights and the adversarial nature of the process. Furthermore, Tor stated that the ban was unconstitutional since it hinders access to information while violating privacy. 

In the appeal, Tor is partnering with RosKomSvoboda, a Russian public organization focusing on digital rights protection and digital empowerment. The ban was initiated after Tor was accused of running illegal activities, including drug and gun sales.

“The court’s decision contradicts the law and the already established practice. We have the position of the Supreme Court, which says that any decision made without the participation of the site owner is unlawful and violates the rights of the owner of the information resource. Also, we have a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which points out that the blockage of a technical network tool is no different from the attempts to restrict access to printers and copiers since they can also be used to reproduce extremist materials in the case of Engels vs. Russia,” said Sarkis Darbinyan, Chief Legal Officer of RosKomSvoboda. 

Consequently, Tor expressed confidence the ban would be lifted. 

Tor users in Russia drop 

Before the ban, Russia accounted for the second-largest Tor users at over 300,000 daily users. The users have, however, significantly dropped to below 200,000 since the ban. 

Following the ban, as reported by Finbold, Tor appealed to the international community to intervene and push Russia to restore normal services.

The browser had warned that the ban could potentially open room for the emergence of malicious actors who can create replica platforms, putting user information at risk. 

The crackdown on Tor was part of Russia’s onslaught targeting foreign tech companies. To prevent users from bypassing the ban, authorities also limited the use of Virtual Private Networks. 

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