TorMail has long been a key anonymity tool for a wide variety of privacy-conscious internet users. It has now been revealed that FBI has a complete copy of the Tormail service, containing names, mails and all other data.
TorMail has long been lambasted by pro-surveillance groups because it allowed traders of illicit drugs and hacktivists to connect with each other. What is entirely ignored in such debates is that TorMail was also a primary choice of activists, social and political, who had to rely on it to gain anonymity and prevent possible backlash over their ideas.
Regardless, when FBI clamped down on the top web host of Tor network, Freedom Hosting, it decided to take home a copy of the entire TorMail server. In other words, all the emails sent and received through TorMail, the email addresses and all the related information are in FBI’s hands now.
Reports suggest that the agency is now using this information to target hackers. Although the touted intent is to nab the cyber criminals, we have seen that in the jargon of the state-appointed prosecutors and spy agencies, people like Aaron Swartz are also deemed cyber criminals.
Such deliberate obfuscation of the definition of a cyber criminal, coupled with US government’s fullest attempts at seizing anything and everything anonymous online, is creating a dangerous world of internet where anonymity is impossible and everyone is vulnerable to surveillance by multiple entities.
FBI’s access to the TorMail server was confirmed when the criminal complaint against an alleged cyber criminal was made public. According to this report, “Between July 22, 2013 and August 2, 2013, in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation, the FBI obtained a copy of a computer server located in France via a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request to France, which contained data and information from the Tormail email server, including the content of Tormail email accounts. On or about September 24, 2013, law enforcement obtained a search warrant to search the contents of the Platplus Tormail Account, which resided on the seized Tormail server.”
Tor network, which is the most common anonymity tool online for hacktivists, activists and yes, cyber criminals too, has lost a significant portion of its credibility over the past few months, owing to similar reports. However, some security researchers say that since TorMail isn’t directly related to the onion network, actual Tor project is still safe to use.
Courtesy: The Hacker News