An open letter for organizations to support Tor onion services


There was a time when organizations used to ask the question, why would we want to use the Internet? There were no easy paradigms for business leaders to understand the implications. Early adopters of the Web slowly learned the value and effects of persistent information broadcasting, including reach into new and unexpected audiences. These organizations not only seeded their presence in online communities, but online communities started to shape the motivations and goals of organizations.

Following the early adoption phase, mass adoption took hold and organizations deepened their understanding. It became clear that connecting with people on this extraordinary level is not without risk and that businesses need to incorporate organizational information assurance policies. Since the beginning, encryption has been critically important to protect business interests.

Organizations are still in the process of adapting to new paradigm shifts. We take for granted TCP protocols that make web pages show up, complete, on user’s screens, because we consider that satisfactory. We take for granted the increasing affordability of data storage because we can do more for less. We not only ignore the effects of billion-dollar industries the are built and driven by the collection of personal data, but we support those industries by focusing on usability and profit. At what point do we ask the question, how much do we actually love our users?

In 2013, a significant opportunity opened up that allows organizations that use Information and Communication Technologies to understand the unintended consequences of clear-text content and metadata sharing. As more and more users depend on the services that organizations provide, organizations are learning more and more about how their technology and policy choices affect their users.

We have reached a point that it is no longer ethically acceptable to claim that our services, and thus our users, do not require both default security and also a choice in security technologies. It is no longer ethically acceptable to prioritize the security of our databases over the security and empowerment of our users.

Employing high-grade HTTPS is step one in adapting to the use of open standards and protocols. However, HTTPS reinforces the use of centralized trust authorities that, fundamentally, have deep security problems of their own. Organizations have long had the opportunity to leverage a free and decentralized security technology, and that technology is called Tor onion services.

Tor onion services mitigate many wide-spread security concerns including Certificate Authority attacks, Border Gateway Protocol attacks, and Domain Name System attacks. Adopting Tor onion services also happens to empower our users by giving them greater autonomy and control of their data and information. We can never understand individualized threat models for all our users; it is our responsibility to first admit that we will never understand such a complex landscape, and second we must employ this free and adaptive technology that raises the bar of security best practices.