Japan Police Want To Block Nefarious Tor Use

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Some fear Japanese police move could lead to a blanket ban of the anonymising service

Police in Japan are hoping to catch crooks using anonymising Internet services by stopping people “abusing” the Tor network which supports anonymous Internet use.

Tor has long been popular amongst privacy conscious individuals and criminals hoping to cover their tracks. The service, otherwise known as The Onion Router, routes traffic through various servers across the globe to make it difficult for users to be tracked, whilst encrypting traffic.

Tor ProjectJapan police vs. Tor

Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) said ISPs should be asked to look out for those abusing Tor to hide illegal activity, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. There are fears this will lead to a blanket ban of Tor.

Tor was believed to have helped a hacker called the ‘Demon Killer’ avoid detection by the NPA.

Demon Killer allegedly threatened to bomb schools and nurseries over Internet forums. It is believed the hacker broke into others’ machines and posted on their behalf, whilst using the Tor network to hide his activity.

That led to the arrest of four innocent people before a 30-year-old IT worker believed to be Demon Killer was arrested.

Jacob Appelbaum, security researcher and core member of the Tor Project, said he would happily fly to Japan to teach people how to use the anonymising service.

“I’ve never visited Japan because I do not travel to places that fingerprint and treat me as if I am a criminal pre-preemptively,” he said over Twitter.

“If the cost of teaching people about Tor in Japan is my fingerprints, I think it would be the start of a nice art project.”

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