The CIA has announced its own website on Tor, promising an anonymous path to tipping off the government on the same platform many people use to hide from it – and leaving the internet asking if Tor itself is a spy tool.
Privacy-minded netizens use anonymous browsing tools like Tor for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) soothing surveillance-induced paranoia, purchasing drugs, keeping their information safe from the government – and now, apparently, giving information to the government.
“Secure, anonymous, untraceable—traits ever-present in CIA’s intelligence collection mission— and the same is true for our onion site, which is now available over the Tor network,” the government agency wrote on Twitter, announcing the “latest layer” of their operations.
TOR (‘The Onion Router) essentially protects users by encrypting Internet traffic and bouncing it through a series of relays or “onion layers” that mask their actual location. The tool will help people to send in “truly anonymous” tips, whether they want to browse the CIA fact book or turn informant on their government.
“Our global mission demands that individuals can access us securely from anywhere. Creating an onion site is just one of many ways we’re going where people are,” said the CIA’s Director of Public Affairs Brittany Bramell.
While “going where people are” might be a nice sentiment for a delivery service, it rings slightly more threatening when offered by an agency tasked with spying on citizens and overthrowing foreign governments.
Quite a few people on Twitter replied to the CIA’s generous offering, although not exactly with the kind of helpful information the agency might have been expecting.