France is reportedly considering tough new laws following the Paris terror attacks that would crack down on anonymous web browsing technology Tor, as well as free WiFi in public places.
French newspaper Le Monde saw documents indicating that France wants to stop terrorists from remaining anonymous online through Tor.
Tor is a specialist web browser that can be used to remain virtually anonymous online. It bounces a user’s internet connection around lots of different servers, making it tough for law enforcement to identify which websites a user is visiting.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, France wants to make sure that terrorists can’t communicate secretly over the internet. Le Monde reports that the legislation blocking access to the Tor web browser could be passed as early as January.
Motherboard reports that France could use two different tactics to stop people using Tor: Legal and technological blocks. A legal approach would be to outlaw the use of Tor, hoping it would dissuade people from downloading the software. However, once you’ve got Tor, the nature of it is that you’re hidden from the government. So another approach that France could use would be to block any French internet addresses trying to connect to Tor servers.
Another legal measure reportedly being considered by France is a ban on free public WiFi networks. It’s much more difficult to track down an internet user who logged on using a public WiFi network because so many people are on the network at once.
One technique that people use to stay anonymous online is a combination of Tor and free public Wifi. Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the deep web drug marketplace The Silk Road, was arrested in a public library in October 2013. He used the free WiFi there because it’s tougher for law enforcement to keep tabs on someone using a crowded router.
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