[talk] Open Letter from The Tor BSD Diversity Project
george at ceetonetechnology.com
Wed Feb 28 19:26:00 EST 2018
This letter has started circulating around the community, and should be
of interest to both talk@ and announce@ subscribers. Note that the two
New York Internet boxes are up and running, and their two relays should
be operational in the next day or two.
An Open Letter to BSD-powered Companies and Projects
For three years, the Tor BSD Diversity Project (TDP) has worked to bring
the BSDs into the mainstream of the privacy-enhancing technology
We aim to expand the use of the BSDs as a platform for Tor relays,
public nodes in the Tor anonymity network. Tor is a critical tool for
maintaining privacy online, frequently employed by journalists, human
rights workers and those residing in repressive and censored environments.
Many people in the BSD community know about TDP, whether from BSD
conferences or our development work, such as porting Tor Browser to
OpenBSD. We are committed to extending the presence of all the BSDs into
the PETs ecosystem, yet beyond our immediate circles we also believe
untapped resources in the BSD community need to be enlisted.
A large number of major firms employ BSD code and systems in their
business. From enterprise-grade backup firms to internet service
providers, the BSDs are a popular operating system option.
TDP is requesting that firms which rely on the BSDs and related
open-source projects run a Tor relay or bridge in their name.
New York Internet, a data center firm that employs FreeBSD and already
hosts the US east coast FreeBSD mirror, committed to running two
high-bandwidth relays, maintained by their staff with TDP assistance.
Their relays are provisioned and “NewYorkInternet0” and
“NewYorkInternet1” should be up and running soon. We hope their example
can be the first among many for BSD-based enterprises.
TDP is in discussions with several other entities to run public relays,
and we look forward to other announcements in the near future.
This open letter also is addressed to the various BSD software projects.
There are few better badges of a trusted Tor node than one provided by a
BSD or derivative project.
Why would a firm or project operate a Tor relay?
First, running a Tor relay extends the most critical public tool for
online privacy and anonymity. Tor enables journalists’ leads to be
anonymous and client-attorney privilege to actually be confidential. In
a time when privacy in any form is under attack Tor is a lifeline for
Second, the majority of Tor relays run Linux. This operating system
monoculture affects the overall integrity of the Tor network. It also
means that the default operating system for a new generation of young
hackers is Linux, and not a BSD. Ultimately, it means a smaller pool of
users familiar with the BSDs.
Running a Tor relay doesn’t mean a significant commitment in terms of
resources and bandwidth. The relay doesn’t necessarily have to allow
“exit traffic”, which tend to be the targets for IP blacklists and DCMA
complaints. It would also be helpful if your entity just ran a Tor
bridge, essentially a private gateway into the Tor network for censored
users. Bridge IPs are not publicly available, yet are a critical
mitigation against internet censors.
Finally, there is a broader advantage to BSD firms running Tor relays:
an example of your commitment to a free and uncensored internet.
Beyond running a relay to support the Tor network in general, there is
also the possibility of making your own services available over the Tor
network via a .onion address. Firms such as Facebook illustrate the
advantage of explicitly offering a .onion address for their site, as it
provides users additional security and privacy guarantees above and
beyond those given by the public internet. Integrating Tor into your
internet presence may be more work than just running a Tor node, but it
also gives more weight to the idea that privacy is a feature that users
need, desire and can reasonably expect.
If you have further questions about running a Tor relay or bridge as an
enterprise, consult our evolving FAQ, or contact us.
If your entity isn’t ready to run a Tor node, but you’re interested in
donating resources such as bandwidth, hardware or some type of monetary
support, contact us. TDP looks forward to assisting your staff in
configuring and maintaining BSD relays.
TorBSD at torbsd.org (GPG Key)
More information about the talk