Nonprofit digital privacy organization Tor Project recently confirmed sexual misconduct committed by a former core developer Jacob Appelbaum. Tor’s executive director Shari Steel said in the statement that Appelbaum engaged in “sexually aggressive behavior” with people both inside and outside the organization.
Steele took the time to give most of the details through a post at the company’s blog. It was a smart move because Tor heavily relies on the anonymous collaboration from its fanbase community.
The company became famous for defending the principles of net neutrality making powerful enemies such as Putin along the way. Its mission is anonymity on the web, and the concept can be both good and bad. Most people don’t know about this company, but the people behind it has influenced the world in a very particular way.
“Many people inside and outside the Tor Project have reported incidents of being humiliated, intimidated, bullied and frightened by Jacob, and several experienced unwanted sexually aggressive behavior from him,” wrote Steele in the Tor Project’s blog.
The revelation shocked the online privacy community when they surfaced in June, as Appelbaum had become somehow a celebrity in the online world.
Tor browser makes anonymous browsing possible
The Tor project develops technology that is used by journalist, digital activist and all kinds of web users that wish to evade online censorship or just ordinary people who want to keep their location and online browsing private.
Tor is free software that filters Internet traffic into a series of relays to assure the privacy of its users. The result is the Tor Browser to navigate the web anonymously. It also gives people access to the infamous deep web where Bitcoins are more valuable than dollars.
Its intention is to allow users to surf the web freely without being monitored by the authorities, and if used correctly, users can access the internet entirely sure no one is going to see what they are doing without authorization. However, this also created a perfect environment for illegal activities including drug markets, assassination services, snuff videos and more. Russia offered a generous bounty to anyone who could crack Tor’s anonymity, but so far, no one has been able to do so.
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) August 5, 2014
The activist organization is now the world’s leader in online privacy and security, and it counts with millions of followers around the globe.
Who is Jacob Appelbaum?
Tor Project’s co-founder is known as one of the most famous online activists in the world and as one of the journalists who worked in the Assange-leaks. Also, he is the only American member of WikiLeaks, despite he currently lives in Berlin.
Rolling Stones magazine called Appelbaum “the public face of the Tor Project” in 2010, a position he carried until early 2016. Such a relevant career took a big hit two months ago when sexual harassment complaints started to swirl around Applebaum.
His resignation quickly followed, and the backstory began to emerge online. It all started when Andrea Shepard, a Tor developer, tweeted the decoded version of a post she initially tweeted on May 24, one day before Appelbaum stepped down.
Allison Macrina, the founder of The Library Freedom Project, also reference the complaints on Twitter, saying she had spoken to various victims. Macrina said this was only the beginning because the secrets would start reaching the surface. She also encouraged the victims to speak up because they were “not alone.”
Precommitment revealed: sha256("It seems one rapist is one rapist too manyn") (https://t.co/gUpiPKI0st)
— Andreⓐ (@puellavulnerata) June 3, 2016
In response, Appelbaum posted on Twitter that this allegations were a part of a “calculated and targeted attack” intended to damage his reputation. Not a good enough defense, as, in early June, Shari Steele opened up an investigation to address this calls, aiming to “strengthen the health of the Tor community”.
Tor re-structured its roster and procedures to report inappropriate behavior
The Tor Project replaced its entire board of directors in the wake of allegations, and will now be implemented anti-harassment and conflict-of-interest policies, and will create mechanisms to address and communicate harassment complaints properly.
The project relies on its employees and a large board of volunteers to maintain its free anonymity network, and changes will be coming to the broader community as well. There will be guidelines for its members, including a code of conduct and reprisals.
Source: Tor Blog