Tor, which is a service for keeping yourself anonymous on the internet, is under fire in Japan. The Japanese Mainichi is reporting that the National Police Agency has asked ISPs to block the use of Tor for people who are “known to have abused the system”. This would effectively remove one of the tools that hackers could use to keep themselves anonymous while doing illegal activities. The request at this time is a voluntary opt-in for the ISPs.
The request comes on the heels of a rash of hacks and public threats that were linked to the network. The NPA was recently embarrassed by the Tor system when they falsely arrested four people in connection with threats, only to have further threats appear while the accused were in police custody.
The service does have legitimate uses as well, though. The encryption and multi-node system is hard to block in countries with censorship or privacy issues. It also allows users to anonymously release information in a whistleblower type of fashion.
It is also semi-effective for general internet browsing, although speed issues greatly hinder the system in its current state.
It remains to be seen if other countries will take steps to block the use of Tor.