Why Tor gets bad press

Interesting interview with one of the creators of the “dark web” by Dave Lee, BBC News’s North America tech reporter.

Roger Dingledine inevitably finds himself defending Tor (the technology that sits behind the dark web) against accusations that it’s created a playground for criminals.

Dingledine points out, rightly, that Tor can be used to anonymously visit normal, non-dark websites, and that this makes up the vast majority of its use. Many people using Tor are doing so to circumvent censorship, and not to visit dodgy drug sales sites.

Yes – but…

As I discovered in my research for a forthcoming Audible series on the dark web, Tor’s developers made a conscious choice to allow the creation of those hidden websites on which so much criminality occurs.

Yes, those “nasty” sites are given a disproportionate amount of coverage in the media, compared to the “nice” uses of Tor. But you could apply the same argument to almost any area of news: sinful behaviour is (thankfully) always a minority sport, but it’s still a mainstay of news.

And when the inventors of Tor deliberately allowed the creation of those “nasty” sites, knowing the risks, I don’t see how they can be annoyed when they get so much bad press.

I understand the justification for the “nice” uses of Tor. But I’m still struggling to see an argument for the creation of a network of hidden websites. And until we get that, the darker side of Tor is always going to grab the headlines.