Tor or The Onion Router network


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Tor or The Onion Router network is an anonymous network that provides online privacy and data protection to its users. Its name derives from the multiple layers of encryption that are added to data and communication on their way to the destination and that are peeled off again on the way back to the original source resembling to an onion. Ciphertext is travelling through the network making use of a series of nodes that act as a chain of other anonymous users hiding the original source and destination from eavesdroppers.

Originally developed in the 1990s by the US Naval Research Laboratory to protect US intelligence messages online, it was released as free software for the public in 2002 and is now maintained as a not-for-profit opensource project with funding from various sources.

The network has become highly controversial since the emerging popularity of cryptomarkets with the 2011-2013 peak when Silk Road was “the” online black market where illegal goods and services could be bought, including illicit drugs, arms weapons, hitmen services and even child pornography. Tor became the Darknet.

Despite these hefty and justified accusations, Tor offers at the same time a safe network where victims of crime, like child abuse and rape, journalists investigating sensitive political matters and activists and citizens of censored countries can freely speak and share their message.

Furthermore, it protects other innocent users from massive marketisation and exploitation when shopping, gaming or communicating online. I agree with Andreas Zaunseder (2018) that Tor does not transform people into criminals. People with bad intentions can use other platforms to conduct their illegal activities and therefore, I think more people should use the Tor network even if only for a moment to escape from the intrusive online advertising industry and enjoy being anonymous in the world wide web.


Zaunseder, A. (2018) ‘The darknet is not a hellhole, it’s an answer to internet privacy’, The Conversation, 16 August[Online]. Available at (Accessed 14 August 2019)

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