[tor-talk] Questions about NSA monitoring of Tor users.

Mark McCarron mark.mccarron at live.co.uk
Sun Jul 13 13:27:47 UTC 2014

I can answer this:

1.  The IP addresses can be connected to an ISP and physical address should the need arise.  It allows the NSA to "rewind the tape" so to speak.  That is why there has been a push for data retention at ISPs.  Given that in the EU governments are seeking 2 years, it would indicate that the platform can rewind internet activity for at least that long.

2.  Tor is a communications platform, the NSA's job is to monitor communications and intercept military planning that effects either itself or its partners.  Secure global communications and computing is now a commodity, whereas it was mainly a state-only capability.  Thus, the average user is now coming up against intelligence agencies, rather than state actors alone.  Leaving blind spots would be dangerous to national security as it provides opportunities for planning and coordination.  So, there is a legitimate case here and no one denies it.  The real problem is that in the absence of a genuine international threat and by that I mean someone on the scale of Russia/China, these systems are being directed against groups with limited capabilities.  Those groups are now being defined as national security threats to justify budgets and to filter money into particular black projects.  Revelations by Snowden and other releases are merely a distraction to where the money is really going.  Did no one notice trillions are being drained from the US economy into some unidentified military project for the last decade or more???

It would seem to indicate that there is a Manhatten-style project underway.


Mark McCarron

> Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2014 23:14:30 +0000
> From: simonsnake at openmailbox.org
> To: tor-talk at lists.torproject.org
> Subject: [tor-talk] Questions about NSA monitoring of Tor users.
> I have two questions about the recent revelations that the NSA has been 
> collecting data about Tor users.
> I would like to hear from those with personal knowledge and experience 
> such as Jacob, Roger, Mike, etc.
> AIUI, from the stories in the German media 
> (http://daserste.ndr.de/panorama/aktuell/nsa230_page-1.html) and Wired 
> (http://www.wired.com/2014/07/nsa-targets-users-of-privacy-services/), 
> the NSA has logged the IP of everyone who ever accessed:
> a) a directory server.
> b) an entry node.
> c) bridges.torproject.org
> d) requested an email of bridges.
> e) the tor website itself (except from five eyes countries).
> This is viable as the NSA runs the Quantum network which allows it to 
> intercept traffic to whichever sites it desires before that traffic 
> arrives at its destination.
> Two questions:
> 1.	What would be the purpose of collecting a vast trove of IP addresses? 
> In my case, my IP could be tied to my real name since I send emails via 
> SMTP which will contain my IP, email address, real name, etc. That said, 
> IP addresses are dynamic. I don't know how easy it would be to identify 
> most people via an IP. Of course, one way would be to ask the ISP 
> directly. But, whether tied to a real identity or not, what's the point? 
>   What does it achieve? They also gather the IP address for those who 
> access any number of proxy services such as MegaProxy and 
> FreeProxies.org. Would they not just end up with a massive database of 
> (mostly dynamic) IPs?
> 2.	What is the attitude that encourages the gathering of this 
> information? Is it: because they can? Or do they truly believe that 
> anyone who uses Tor is dangerous? Bear in mind that Tor was developed 
> and is still funded by the US government. No-one can deny that 
> dissidents in unfree countries use it. So, even if you assume that a 
> high percentage of users are bad people, what about the dissidents in 
> the Middle East or wherever? What is the psychology here? I'm sure 
> people like Roger are in regular contact with some government types. 
> Perhaps he can shed some light on the motivation?
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