November 17, 2017

Report: “First Library to Support Anonymous Internet Browsing Effort Stops After DHS Email”

UPDATE:The Library Freedom Project (LFP) has posted a petition to support “Tor and Intellectual Freedom in Libraries.” You can learn more and sign (if desired) here. Here’s the petition’s text:

We condemn the scare tactics of the DHS and local police, and pledge our full support to Kilton Library to help them keep their Tor relay. This library has the right to support and use this powerful tool for digital free expression without fear of government bullying.

LFP has shared additional information in this letter to the library community (4 pages; PDF).

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From Julia Angwin at ProPublica:

In July, the Kilton Public Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, was the first library in the country to become part of the anonymous Web surfing service Tor. The library allowed Tor users around the world to bounce their Internet traffic through the library, thus masking users’ locations.

[Note: See our post, “The Library Privacy Project and TOR Project Begin Library Exit Node Pilot” (July 29, 2015)]

Soon after state authorities received an email about it from an agent at the Department of Homeland Security.

[Clip]

“Right now we’re on pause,” said [Sean] Fleming [Kilton Library Director]. “We really weren’t anticipating that there would be any controversy at all.”

He said that the library board of trustees will vote on whether to turn the service back on at its meeting on Sept. 15.

[Clip]

After [Alison] Macrina [Founder of the Library Freedom Project] conducted a privacy training session at the Kilton library in May, she talked to the librarian about also setting up a Tor relay, the mechanism by which users across the Internet can hide their identity.

The library board of trustees unanimously approved the plan at its meeting in June, and the relay was set up in July. But after ArsTechnica wrote about the pilot project and Macrina’s plan to install Tor relays in libraries across the nation, law enforcement got involved.

Read the Complete Article (Including Comments from a DHS Official and the Deputy City Manager of Kilton, NH)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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