Terms and conditions from hell may apply

Backed by Europol and organized by the Cyber Security Research Institute, security researchers conducted highly unusual Wi-Fi hotspot experiments. The Guardian reported:

When people connected to the hotspot, the terms and conditions they were asked to sign up to included a “Herod clause” promising free Wi-Fi but only if “the recipient agreed to assign their first born child to us for the duration of eternity”.

While the people who agreed clearly did not fully read the terms and conditions before accepting, there are no terms and conditions that if you write code for Tor then you agree to be surveilled.

The Kernel told the story of Griffin Boyce, who writes code for Tor, and had his apartment broken into but none of his high-tech toys stolen. Instead, his “routers were pulled out of the cabinet and left dangling by their cables” and someone messed around on his laptop. “For those involved in Tor, his encounter is merely the latest in a string of incidents that have led them to one inevitable conclusion: They’re nearly all being watched all over the world.”

Of course, just a few years ago there was also no clear indication that using Tor, Tails, or other privacy services painted an NSA target bullseye on your back.

Is Tor about to go mainstream? “Many companies want to include Tor in their products, because they've heard from the market that Tor is the real deal and really does work,” Tor executive director Andrew Lewman told The Daily Dot. “As privacy is becoming the hot new buzzword for products to include, jump-starting with Tor seems a smart way for a product manufacturer to do it.”

While there was no definitive answer about if Tor would become built-in by default on any major browser, the Daily Dot claimed that Tor developers are preparing “to scale to a ‘global population’” before speculating the browser would be Mozilla Firefox.

For those skittish souls who believe Tor is only for pedophiles and wonder why anyone else might use it, I leave you with this “They Know” video.

Wait, you didn’t sign up for that? Well, apparently those are the invisible terms and conditions from hell that no one agrees to but are automatically deemed as acceptance for using the Internet. Using Tor is but one of the recommended surfing habits to adopt in order to help protect your privacy.

If you are still not convinced that using Tor might be wise, even if you have nothing to hide, then a “summon the NSA” button might be for you. Luckily, it now comes with “100% more cavity search.”

Summon the NSA button Kane Ford

Of course, the disclaimer added, “By clicking this button your browser will do a Google search for 3 randomly picked terms from a list of known words that the NSA monitors. These searches will summon the police and FBI to your house because, just like everyone living in America today, all of your digital transactions are being monitored.”

Update: A Mozilla spokesperson sent me this statement:

"Mozilla and the Tor Project share many of the same values and goals, such as building user trust in the Web and giving users more capabilities to navigate the Web on their own terms. We have a long-standing relationship with the Tor Project and regularly discuss ways we might collaborate to strengthen the open Web and deliver a better browsing experience for Firefox users, but have no specific projects to share at this time."

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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