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Belarus bans Tor


Belarus has officially banned all Internet anonymizers, including Tor. According to an announcement by the nation’s Communications Ministry, the authorities intend to block access to any anonymizers that allow Internet users to reach online resources banned inside Belarus. In the case of Tor, officials likely plan to block the so-called exit nodes (the gateways where encrypted Tor traffic hits the Internet).

After an analysis of Internet resources and anonymizer tools (such as proxy servers and anonymous networks like Tor) that allow individuals access to restricted online content, government inspectors are adding these anonymizer tools to the state’s restricted list.

Tor is free software that enables anonymous Internet access, allowing users to conceal their location and usage from third parties conducting network surveillance or Internet traffic analysis.

Chinese authorities try to disable Tor by blocking access to the “input” nodes Tor uses to connect users to websites. The government analyzes Web traffic to identify these (constantly-changing) nodes and then blocks them. Nevertheless, it’s possible to circumvent even these extensive blocking efforts. For example, there are tools to mask Tor traffic as other types of traffic, making it look like Skype data, for instance.

In early February, Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma’s committee on public communications policy, proposed giving Russian police the power to block access to Internet anonymizers and “the means of accessing anonymous networks, such as Tor.”

On February 6, the press secretary of Roskomnadzor, state-run media watchdog, compared the Tor network to Khitrovka, the bawdy marketplace of 19th century Moscow, known as a den of criminals, and said Tor users are like “ghouls, all gathered in one place.”

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