The Tor software is getting a lot of attention as of late, even though not all of it is overly positive. London airports are now officially blocking access to Tor. By the look of things, the UK government wants to censor internet free speech. This is a worrisome trend, to say the least, as the airports block not only the Tor homepage, but also the server where the operating system is hosted.
London Airports Take Censorship To A New Level
For the time being, two airports in London are actively blocking all access to Tor and the software server. Heathrow and Stansted are the two airports being affected by this decision. Oddly enough, representatives of either airport remain very tight lipped as to why this decision was made, or why they block Tor all of a sudden.
While the Heathrow Airport FAQ mentions how they will automatically block access to specific websites deemed to be “inappropriate”, Tor access was not on that list until very recently. Arqiva is the company filtering content which is considered to be appropriate. The company does the same for a lot of public wifi hotspots all over the United Kingdom. However, their business representative also made it clear Heathrow airport had no say in the matter of blocking Tor.
Oddly enough, an email discovered by Motherboard Vice shows how a service relationship manager of Arqiva stated the filtering is based on the requirements of these airports. By the look of things, one party is trying to move responsibility to the other party and vice versa. Not entirely surprising either, but still, a definite answer would be better.
Tor could be labeled in the “proxy service” category for sure. Arqiva’s filters are blocking proxy services all over the UK, as well as platforms providing proxy service access. But the new OpenDNS filters now also include blocking any service or site that allows users to surf the Internet anonymously.
For the Tor Project team, this news is not a major dealbreaker. There may seem little reason to use Tor specifically at an airport, considering there are other options available to create more privacy and anonymity. Moreover, there are alternatives to download Tor software, even if it is not from the source.
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