The Tor Project, the developers behind the anonymising Tor web browser, has said it’s “disgusted” by the Daily Stormer neo-Nazi news site, but defended the software ethos that means the site is now accessible via Tor.
The Daily Stormer can only be accessed through the Tor browser, after Google and GoDaddy denied the firm domain registry services, and Cloudflare removed its protection against hacking attacks. The site is named after the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda newspaper, “Der Stürmer.”
It’s available through a link posted to a now-blocked Twitter account for status updates and on Gab, a chat app popular with the alt-right.
Tor Project contributor Steph wrote in a blogpost that while the firm was “appalled”, the project couldn’t pick and choose whose free speech and privacy rights it protects.
“We’ve heard that the hate-spewing website Daily Stormer has moved to a Tor onion service.
“We are disgusted, angered, and appalled by everything these racists stand for and do. We feel this way any time the Tor network and software are used for vile purposes. But we can’t build free and open source tools that protect journalists, human rights activists, and ordinary people around the world if we also control who uses those tools. Tor is designed to defend human rights and privacy by preventing anyone from censoring things, even us.”
She added that the software had been written by a diverse team of different races, religions, and gender identities.
“And we work every day to defend the human rights they oppose,” she added. “They feel powerful by spewing hate, whining, bullying, and promoting violence against others. But together, we are more powerful.”
As well as having the noble goal of providing cover to activists and journalists in danger, Tor and the dark web is also popular with paedophiles and criminals who abuse its anonymous protections.
For the Daily Stormer and, increasingly, other neo-Nazi services, it’s the last resort after a Silicon Valley-wide effort to clampdown on hate speech after the violent clash between white nationalist marchers and counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia. PayPal and GoFundMe refused to provide payment or funding services to hate sites; Squarespace ditched white nationalist customers like alt-righter Richard Spencer; and Facebook and Twitter barred white nationalist accounts from their service.