In the age of Edward Snowden, the need for Internet privacy has never been more apparent. The thought of governments, corporations and hackers snooping on your online habits is more than a little scary.
Whenever you visit a website, it can record your IP address, Internet service provider and details about your computer. You’re basically broadcasting your identity to anyone who might care to look.
If you want to protect your privacy, you need an anonymizing service like Tor. Tor stands for The Onion Router. It’s called that because it routs your signal through multiple computers to hide your tracks.
Essentially, it provides layers of identity protection. Tor was originally designed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to protect government communications. But it will work as well for your computer.
Journalists, activists, military and government agencies use Tor. Regular folks like you and me can also get those benefits.
Just be warned: Tor will change your Web browser’s settings. That means you should only use it if you know what you’re doing or you’ve read and understand the directions.
There are a few other things you should know about Tor. You may notice some loss of speed when you use it. That’s because your Web traffic is traveling through several relays before it gets to you.
The FBI has proven it can get into Tor if it really needs to. So, you don’t want to use it for anything illegal.
On top of that, Tor can bounce your connection around the world. If the NSA does snoop on your activity, you’ll be treated as a foreign national until you can be identified as an American citizen. Also, if you operate an exit relay, you may actually draw government attention to you.
Even so, there’s nothing illegal about using Tor to protect your identity. That being said, I’m not a lawyer. If you have any questions about privacy issues, you might want to consult with one.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to pay attention to Tor’s documentation. There is extensive legal and technical information at the Tor website. You’ll see exactly how to use the program. Plus you can learn the capabilities and limitations.