[tor-talk] tor and isp

Seth David Schoen schoen at eff.org
Wed Mar 19 06:32:19 UTC 2014

jadaan writes:

> dear sir
> i have a Q can you answer please ? 
> 1- is tor hide the web sites link that i open from isp or only encrept data 
>  for example if i use tor and open www.google.com
>     and in search bar type food 
> is tor hide from isp infomation that i open google or that i search food or both ?

Tor hides both.

> 2- is there a method posible to hide from isp totally information about what web sites i open and all activity that i do 

Under some assumptions, Tor can do that.  The ISP will still know that
you are using Tor, and they can see the time and amount of data that you
transmit.  If there's a particular person that they're looking for, they
might be able to guess whether that person was or wasn't you based on
that timing information (for example, the person who sent a certain
e-mail or made a certain forum post at a particular time).

This is especially true if you use Tor over a long period of time and
there are many different "events" that they specifically want to find
the person responsible for, or if you are one of a tiny number of people
who could plausibly have been responsible.

> 3- how can hide totally information from isp and search engine 
>     for example if i want to open site wikipidi and dont want anyone to know that i am open that site is tor protect me ? 

Yes, Tor does that, with the limitations described above.

You might find this diagram helpful.  It doesn't address every
conceivable threat but it shows basically what different entities can
see directly when you use Tor (with or without using an HTTPS connection
to a web site that you're accessing).


> 4- what about mac address is tor hide it totally and hide my location 

MAC address is normally not sent over the Internet beyond the first
router that forwards your communications.  If you are using a wifi
device in a public place, your MAC address can be observed wirelessly
by anyone physically nearby you (including the wifi network operator
or anybody else).  This can be used as a location tracking method.

Tor doesn't directly affect the question of MAC address privacy.  It
might affect whether someone trying to locate you has _other_ data
points suggesting your location, which they could then try to compare
with observations of particular MAC addresses.

If you're using Tor on, say, a wifi network run by a large national
cellular company, and the cellular company knows your device's MAC
address, they will be able to detect your location when that device
associates with a particular wifi base station, and Tor won't prevent
that at all.  The same is true of anybody else who is monitoring MAC
addresses with physical sensors.  In the U.S., for example, some
"location analytics" companies have started to do that for commercial

Some privacy-oriented operating systems that run from CD-ROM, like
Tails, have features to change the MAC address in order to make the
particular device less recognizable, even by the local area network.

> 5- other important Question very impotant please as profi answer 
>   if i use a cell phone that dont have 3g and gps module very old kind of phone 
>   can isp detect my location without having 3g and gps in cell phone 

The cell phone provider can _ALWAYS_ detect your location if you're
using the cellular network for any purpose, including a voice call,
including if your device is registered for emergency calls only (without
a SIM card installed).  3G and GPS are _not_ necessary for the cell phone
network to detect a device's physical location.  The cell phone has a
unique hardware address (IMEI for GSM networks) and its position can be
detected by the network using triangulation.  This was always true in
principle for every generation of GSM and doesn't rely on newer
technologies.  The ability to locate your device doesn't depend on
position reports from your device, but can be done solely by looking at
the radio signals your device sends when registering on the network.

Seth Schoen  <schoen at eff.org>
Senior Staff Technologist                       https://www.eff.org/
Electronic Frontier Foundation                  https://www.eff.org/join
815 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA  94109       +1 415 436 9333 x107

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