TOR Coming to a Library Near You

A TOR exit relay could be on its way to a library near you.  The TOR Project is partnering with the Library Freedom Project in an effort to add TOR exit relays in libraries around the world.  If the new project is successful we could see the number of TOR exit relays multiply quickly as public libraries adopt the open-source technology to help users protect their online privacy.

In case you’re new to TOR let us give you a quick crash course.  The TOR browser is a free open-source solution to help protect your online privacy.  It is different from VPN but the intended purpose of protecting your privacy makes it an alternative for users.  I personally prefer VPN since TOR is much slower but there are still a lot of people who prefer free solutions.  It’s kind of like password managers, they have their faults but using one is a lot safer than relying on the same password for multiple sites.

TOR stands for “The Onion Router” and it works by passing your information through a series of relays.  Think of each relay as a layer of an onion.  By passing your data through TOR it makes it harder to track your internet activities.  We won’t say impossible as there are ways to expose TOR users.  Even so it’s much safer than not having any privacy protection.

TOR Library Project

The picture above shows Nima Fatemi from TOR Project and Chuck McAndrew, the IT librarian at Kilton Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire.  The Kilton Library was chosen as a pilot for the new project.  That makes it the first public library to host a TOR exit relay.  Assuming the pilot goes well the Library Freedom Project plans to roll out more TOR exit relays in libraries across the United States and perhaps around the world.

Would you like your local library to become a TOR exit relay as well?  If so the Library Freedom Project is looking for candidates for future moving forward.  If you don’t work for the library then you will want to get in touch with the person in charge of IT for the branch.  They will know the answers to the related questionnaire and may also provide you with the right contacts to seek approval.  Adding more privacy protection in public spaces is a great idea.  Along with being TOR exit relays, libraries are also encouraged to run the TOR browser for users to take advantage of the extra privacy protection.  I’m sure there will be some additional training for both staff and users.