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Countries That Use Tor Most Are Either Highly Repressive or Highly Liberal 136

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: You might assume that people in the most oppressive regimes wouldn't use the Tor anonymity network because of severe restrictions on technology or communication. On the other hand, you might think that people in the most liberal settings would have no immediate need for Tor. A new paper shows that Tor usage is, in fact, highest at both these tips of the political spectrum, peaking in the most oppressed and the most-free countries around the world. "There is evidence to suggest that at extreme levels of repression, Tor does provide a useful tool to people in those circumstances to do things that they otherwise would not be able to do," Eric Jardine, research fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think-tank, told Motherboard in a phone call.
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Countries That Use Tor Most Are Either Highly Repressive or Highly Liberal

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    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      And by "Liberal" is that the actual meaning of the word or is it the hijacked meaning of the word used in the US to designate the Democrats?

      • by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @01:15PM (#51854117)
        Progressives have already hijacked the word liberal. Liberalism is antithetical to socialism and communism and any other collectivist sect.
        • "Sect", that's cute.

        • You've confused Liberalism and Libertarianism.

          • No. The word liberalism (up until the late 19th C) meant individual liberty (as opposed to being part of the collectivist herd). By the late 19th C and early 20th C progressives started appropriating the term. Why? That may be a matter of debate. But progressives are clearly anti-individual liberty. See their reactions to anybody who disagrees with them. See the contradictions in their arguments.

            "I'm pro-choice because women own their own body."

            "So if you own your own body you can chose to take drugs
            • Speaking as a liberal, I don't really care about gun control, except that I get twitchy about the government infringing on a Constitutional right. I don't in general like laws that restrict people for their own good. Seat belts and helmets are a bit trickier, since we do put restrictions on the use of public roads to make the system work better, but unless you're taking a drug that makes you dangerous to others I don't care what you put into your body. I don't care who you're sexually attracted to (I mi

              • Whenever we use the words conservative, libertarian, liberal, progressive we generalize a bit. It's not like geometry where there is a clear distinction between a rectangle and pentagon and a hexagon.

                I wish liberals, in general, believed in individual freedom. A few specifics become very important but the general principal is ignored.

                The general principal comes from answering the following question: "Who / what has sovereignty over your body?" (Sovereignty is an 18thC - and older - term signifying r
                • If you have ownership over your own body, you still can be restricted for public safety when dealing with others. I don't in general care what you do in your car if it doesn't affect others, but seat belts do help others. A driver wearing a seat belt is safer for other people. A passenger not wearing a seat belt can turn into a dangerous missile, and is likely to make an accident more serious than it would have been. Similarly, while I normally don't care what you put into your body, I get fussier if y

    • by pesho ( 843750 )
      Separates the needy from the greedy.
  • what it was used for would be nice to know, I suspect there are different uses...but that defeat the purpose of tor eh?
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @12:36PM (#51853827) Homepage

    You might assume that people in the most oppressive regimes wouldn't use the Tor anonymity network because of severe restrictions on technology or communication. On the other hand, you might think that people in the most liberal settings would have no immediate need for Tor

    People who live in oppressive regimes need anonymity. People who live in free countries know the value of their liberty and anonymity because they see the threats to it.

    I'm afraid I don't see this as particularly shocking.

    People who live in places like the UK where they've already said "you don't really get privacy or anonymity because we said so" have likely just accepted that as a fact, because they already don't have it.

    People who have more freedom, and people who have less freedom, have a much more immediate sense of what they have, stand to lose, or don't have.

    Especially since increasingly the governments of those "liberal" countries are trying to assert that, no, you don't get to have privacy and anonymity, because they'd really prefer if they had 100% access to your life.

    If the national police forces of most Western countries had their way, we'd all give up these freedoms so that assholes could pretend they're protecting our freedoms.

    Sorry, telling me I no longer have those freedoms isn't protecting them. It's the fucking opposite.

    • I agree that this isn't surprising. I would add that the moderately oppressive societies are a special case of ignorance.

      Basically, in the cases where the society has oppressed them a little bit, they have been taught by the culture that it's OK. They think "eh, this isn't so bad, I don't really need privacy, it's OK if the government takes it away, the government hasn't truly abused it's power."

      But that only works for a while. Once the government expands the use of censorship and privacy invasions, peop

    • Re:Huh?? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @12:48PM (#51853923)

      People who live in oppressive regimes need anonymity.

      Yes, and the "regime" includes not only the government, but people and the condition of society as well. For example: by being found to having an unpopular view, then people around you such as family might shun you.

      In the US, the Democrats and those that support them are oppressive of individual rights. Many people have had their lives turned upside down, or their careers ruined after frivolously being called a racist, or being falsely accused of a crime that became media-popularized.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 )

        In the US, the Democrats and those that support them are oppressive of individual rights

        Oh, bullshit.

        In the US most Republicans want to overturn the right of women to have abortions. In the US the Republicans want to entrench the right of Christians to discriminate, while wanting to ensure they can't be discriminated against.

        Both sides of US politics want to control some aspects of individual rights. But don't fucking tell me that the Republicans do not also wish to do things which are oppressive of indiv

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I won't disagree with your rant against Republicans, because I generally agree with it. But at the same time I didn't see you argue that "the left" doesn't actually use "racism" as a stick to suppress arguments.

          Immigration is a great example -- I think there's lots of reasons to argue for less immigration, but if you do argue this point one of the first criticisms will be that it's not actually about immigration but racism against Latinos.

          Even more interesting is the claim of racism when it comes to strict

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          In the US most Republicans want to overturn the right of women to have abortions.

          Abortions are not a right, never were: have been illegal for the past more than 100 years, and constitute an infringement of the rights of people who have not been born yet.....

          Abortion is arguably worse than slavery in some sense, because at least slavery did not deprive the enslaved entirely of the possibility to live and have some happiness in life.

          Just because the beneficiary of an injustice solely benefits, and the in

          • Abortions are not a right, never were: have been illegal for the past more than 100 years, ...

            I'm sure you have some lame pseudo-legal argument that you think proves that statement, but you're wrong. Whatever your argument is, it's not something people are actually prosecuted under. Some abortions are legal. If they weren't, all the abortion clinics would have been closed down. The people that want to use the legal system to stop abortions are finding other ways. They do things like passing the recent Texas law that required that abortions only be done in facilities that have more surgica

            • Abortions are not a right, never were: have been illegal for the past more than 100 years, ...

              I'm sure you have some lame pseudo-legal argument that you think proves that statement, but you're wrong.

              I'm not certain, but I'd guess that the argument is that murder is illegal. It's not uncommon for people to think of abortions as murder and those who see it that way are unlikely to buy the argument that embryos/zygotes/fetuses aren't people. Murder was illegal in the days of American slavery, but law enforcement authorities didn't think of slaves as people, so many murders weren't prosecuted. (By "murder" I mean the traditional common language definition, not the legal definition which is somewhat more de

              • It's not uncommon for people to think of abortions as murder

                I haven't really studied the subject, but I'm not aware of any time when abortion has been treated as murder. It's very often been illegal, but I don't know of times or jurisdictions when it's been punished in the same way as murder was. (If you have examples of such, I'd love to learn of them.)

                • My view is pretty US centric, so while there may be examples, none leap to mind. However, this law [wikipedia.org] does give fetuses the same protection as a birthed baby. It's an interesting topic if you can keep politics and personal biases at bay.

                  Please note however, that I said "think of as" which means that it is an opinion held by people, not a position supported by legislative action.

          • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

            actually abortion has been a right recognized since 1973.
            the unborn dont have rights, by virtue of not being a person.
            scientifically speaking its still a part of the mother's own body, and not a separate entity.

            the idea that none of the republican leadership propose further actions is bullshit.
            since 2010 alone, when they swept nearly every state legislature in the country thanks to massive redistricting right after the census, there have been over 2300 different abortion regulations proposed or adopted at t

          • The really interesting thing about abortion is that Republican leaders seem to be more interested in keeping it alive as a political issue than banning it.

            Roe vs. Wade did not confer an unlimited legal right to abortion, but set limits on what states could do to ban it. There wasn't a surge of Republican-run states passing new laws to go up to the border of what Roe vs. Wade permitted. There have been a lot of laws passed that are effectively meaningless (late-term abortions are almost always for healt

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You do realize there are two sides to that coin, right?

        That you are so blinded by rage toward "democrats" that any progressive attitudes are seen as an assault on your personal right to be a dickbag to people you don't like?

        It is the most circular reasoning I've ever seen, and there are many like you. I have many friends who have essentially isolated themselves from everyone they used to know for the reasons you provide. Interestingly, they tend to goad the others into shunning them by accusing everyone o

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

        In the US, the Democrats and those that support them are oppressive of individual rights.

        Pure myopic ignorance.
        AKA, bullshit.
        It is not the democrats who oppose equal rights for minorities, women, LGBT, and others.

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

        and dont make me pull out the history lesson regarding the migration of conservatives and liberals from one party to other over racial issues by saying something stupid like "but democrats were the original racists". that would be foolish of you.

  • Since "Highly Liberal" is a subset of "Highly Repressive", the story title is somewhat repetitive.

    The thing is, there is a tendency to think that a government that forces everyone to do things the way you think it should be done is not repressive. As long as one can do what one wants, one may be surprised and offended to discover others believe they are being oppressed.

    Over and over again a movement starts to deal with real problems and then overshoots into creating other problems whether or not their metho

  • Today will be partly sunny or partly cloudy. That's been Perspective Weather with Captain Obvious. Have as good a day as you feel like having!
    • by pr0nbot ( 313417 )

      I didn't think it was obvious. I would have expected a more or less linear correlation of Tor use with degree of repression.

      Without having RTFA, I suspect it really is linear, and the measure of freedom (liberalism) they're using isn't an adequate measure of digital freedom. Hard to imagine the Five Eyes countries would be considered particularly free unless you weight surveillance slow and censorship high.

  • To get at the research paper itself would cost me a minimum of $36.

    It's not clear to me how you build meaningful global stats for a service that is usually promoted here as anonymous. It is also not clear to me how these states relate to the population as a whole.

    The ultimate test of a "secret messaging" system is whether people generally feel safe and comfortable using it. The old-time spy hated the gadget or the code book that his handlers claimed could be easily hidden or disguised or disposed of in a pi

  • Political repression isn't such a good measure by itself. Many countries that seem politically non-repressive are socially very repressive; that is, legally, little is going to happen to you if you state an unpopular opinion, but you may greatly hurt your job or career chances. Many European nations fall into that category, and the US is increasingly moving in that direction as well. Just look at the current Title IX witch hunts and the wild accusations of racism against anybody who doesn't toe the progress

    • Alternately, look at Christians claiming they're being discriminated against or that there's a war against Christmas. I'm getting tired of people thinking that all the unreasonable assholes disagree with them. There's plenty of unreasonable assholes who more or less agree with my politics, and plenty that disagree strongly.

      • Alternately, look at Christians claiming they're being discriminated against or that there's a war against Christmas.

        That's comparing apples and oranges. Christians claiming that they are being discriminated against doesn't hurt anybody. Title IX prosecutions and $100000 fines for refusing to bake a cake wreck lives. People legally not getting hired because they are being accused of being racists and homophobic merely for disagreeing with progressive politics, that wrecks lives.

        • Title IX prosecutions wreck lives? How do they do that, criminal prosecutions? How's that different from what happens if you're busted and convicted of marijuana possession? I'd call the War on Drugs to be the biggest unnecessary life-wrecker, and that's something your typical liberal or progressive would like to see go away.

          Large fines for refusing to bake a cake? You need to read up on that. The bakers got a small fine for violating the law. However, they started a harassment campaign against the

          • Title IX prosecutions wreck lives? How do they do that, criminal prosecutions?

            People get kicked out of college and have the reasons marked in their transcript.

            Large fines for refusing to bake a cake? You need to read up on that. The bakers got a small fine for violating the law

            The Oregon bakers were fined $135000 by the Oregon Labor Commissioner, as Snopes itself explains [snopes.com]. Are you illiterate or are you a liar?

            The BOLI Final Order awards $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Ra

            • The Snopes article mentions the damages, which are explicitly not fines, but doesn't go into the harassment that resulted from the bakery's going public. You can find that in the linked court document. It doesn't say what would have happened if the bakers hadn't put the dispute on Facebook. There was no multi-thousand-dollar fine.

              I believe that a business that serves the public should serve the public, and that discrimination against disliked minorities should be illegal. Such discrimination can cont

              • The Snopes article mentions the damages, which are explicitly not fines, but doesn't go into the harassment that resulted from the bakery's going public.

                As Snopes says, the $135000 were imposed by BOLI for the act of discrimination alone, contradicting your claims that the high fines were for subsequent abusive conduct.

                I believe that a business that serves the public should serve the public, and that discrimination against disliked minorities should be illegal. Such discrimination can continue for a long ti

                • As Snopes says, the $135000 were imposed by BOLI for the act of discrimination alone, contradicting your claims that the high fines were for subsequent abusive conduct.

                  I'm going to correct just one paragraph here, because the rest is no more rational.

                  The $135K was not a fine. It was damages. Snopes doesn't do their usual good job here, but they do link to the court findings, and the Findings of Fact show a lot of up-front emotional distress, followed by the considerably worse stuff that went on after

                  • The $135K was not a fine. It was damages. Snopes doesn't do their usual good job here, but they do link to the court findings, and the Findings of Fact show a lot of up-front emotional distress

                    You said:

                    The bakers got a small fine for violating the law. However, they started a harassment campaign against the couple who wanted a cake and filed the complaint, and the resulting lawsuit was what cost them big.

                    That statement is wrong. The issue isn't whether you call it a "fine" or "damages", the issue is that th

                    • The point is that, if the bakery had just said "Go away" and left it at that, they would not have been in serious financial trouble. You are being disingenuous in calling this a freedom of speech affair. The bakers were indeed justified in publicizing what happened on First Amendment grounds, but the First doesn't say there aren't consequences for speech. As they named the would-be customers in question, it became effectively harassment rather than a simple protest.

                    • The point is that, if the bakery had just said "Go away" and left it at that, they would not have been in serious financial trouble.

                      That is what the bakery did. Then, the lesbian couple filed a complaint with BOLI, that complaint got sent to the bakery. And then the bakery published the complaint letter they received with names. (We don't know what would have happened if they hadn't published the letter with names. You presume that the fine would have been small. I don't believe that based on the judgment a

                    • The bakery said "go away". The couple was feeling emotionally hurt at being illegally discriminated against, so they filed a report. I assume you are in favor of people being able to report illegal actions. I don't know what fine is assessed for such discrimination, but I'd expect it to be small. I don't even know if the bakery was fined.

                      Publishing the letter was fine. Leaving the names on came at a risk, since the couple did nothing wrong, and it was reasonable to expect some sort of harassment fro

                    • I don't know what fine is assessed for such discrimination, but I'd expect it to be small. I don't even know if the bakery was fined.

                      Look, this discussion started with your assertion "Large fines for refusing to bake a cake? You need to read up on that. The bakers got a small fine for violating the law. However, they started a harassment campaign against the couple who wanted a cake and filed the complaint, and the resulting lawsuit was what cost them big." You needed to "read up on that", and we have esta

  • All I found was a chart and an abstract. At no time did I see the actual countries listed.
    Also how liberal a nation is can be up for debate.
    For example some nations in the EU have hate speech laws but almost no restriction on sexual content.
    In the US you will often see age restriction on sexual content but no restriction on political speech. Which is more free or liberal?
    I would like to to have seen a list of the nations and how they ranked them before I draw any conclusion.

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