Japanese people who “abuse” the Tor anonymous browsing network could be blocked from using it.
The police in Japan have decided to target people, who are found abusing the anonymous Tor network, and block them from accessing the network. This development was reported in a recommendation made by a panel of experts from the technological to the National Police Agency, according to the Japanese daily The Mainichi. The panel, which was established with the sole purpose of coming up with new strategies for tackling crimes which were perpetrated using the Tor network. All this happened after the high profile case of the Demon Killer who used the Tor anonymous network to elude capture from authorities.
Tor, an abbreviation of The Onion Router, is a network which has features of anonymity for its users by redirecting the traffic to dedicated servers worldwide which provides for concealment of a user history and his location so that internet activity cannot be traced easily. The network works in layers of encryption as the name suggests i.e. like the layers of an onion peel, and the data is encrypted and re-encrypted repeatedly so that it cannot be deciphered during the transit process. The network has been around since 2002 and many versions have been released from time to time and there has been some controversy about the level of safety and anonymity on the network and its use for potentially illegal activities.
The anonymous has made investigation into cybercrime much difficult and perplexing and the noise around it was heightened during the recent case of the Demon Killer. Demon Killer, the notorious hacker who went around sending threat messages about bombing nurseries and schools on online discussion and chat forums. The Police had announced a reward of 3 million Yen or 20,000 dollars for information about the hacker’s whereabouts. When the police arrested four suspects, they were found to be innocent victims of the hacker who had compromised their machines using the virus iesys.exe and was using them to use Tor. The hacker sent taunting emails to the Police, which included riddles which took the investigators to an island near Tokyo and finally led them to a feline wearing a collar which had a memory card on it which included details of the virus used by the hacker. He was finally apprehended by the police soon after they studied the CCTV footage of the cat in which he featured. The hacker was a worker in the IT industry named Yusuke Katayama, aged 31.
It was after Katayama’s arrest that the NPA decided to get expert guidance to nab criminals who used similar means to elude the law and set up an expert panel. The panel has recommended a ban on networks like Tor or any other network which provides anonymity to the users.
The ISPs in Japan are not apparently happy with this recommendation of the panel, and an industry insider commented in a talk with the Mainichi that “Communication privacy is our lifeline. We won’t be able to accept such a request,”
Well, the merit of this recommendation will be understood only later after more reaction is observed and the opinion of other experts in industry is sought.