In the past few days, there have been reports that Comcast, the Philadelphia-based Internet giant (and broadcast giant, and content giant, and giant giant) has been monitoring its users’ activities and has been blocking users’ use of TOR privacy enhancing services.
The reports have indicated that Comcast considers the use of TOR to be in furtherance of “criminal activities” and a violation of the company’s Terms of Service. Not only are they blocking it, according to reports, but they are calling the cops on users.
Comcast today replied that, nope, they aren’t monitoring for TOR use, and nope they don’t consider TOR use a violation of Terms of Service, and nope they don’t consider TOR use per se to be illegal, and nope, they aren’t blocking TOR.
The Comcast statement accompanied by a pretty TOR picture ends with the observation that “Our customers can use Tor at any time, as I have myself. I’m sure many of them are using it right now.”
In the full statement Comcast notes:
Comcast is not asking customers to stop using Tor, or any other browser for that matter. We have no policy against Tor, or any other browser or software. Customers are free to use their Xfinity Internet service to visit any website, use any app, and so forth.
Here are the facts:
- Comcast doesn’t monitor our customer’s browser software, web surfing or online history.
- The anecdotal chat room evidence described in these reports is not accurate.
- We respect customer privacy and security and only investigate and disclose certain information about a customer’s account with a valid court order or other appropriate legal process, just like other ISPs. More information about these policies can be found in our Transparency Report here.
- We do not terminate customers for violating the Copyright Alert System (aka “six strikes”), which is a non-punitive, educational and voluntary copyright program. Read more here.
Mostly clear. Comcast has not declared war on TOR.
HOWEVER, this doesn’t mean that using TOR is free and clear. You see, the NSA, and other government agencies have taken the position that the use of TOR or other privacy enhancing technologies are used mostly by criminals, drug dealers, money launderers, terrorists, and child molesters. After all, who else would want privacy, right?
So to them, the use of TOR is evidence that you should be investigated. With a subpoena. To Comcast. Without notice to you, or an opportunity to be heard. Like the way they hunted down Silk Road by incomplete implementation of TOR. Or “Operation Torpedo” seeking to infiltrate TOR networks. So even if Comcast is cool with your TOR, others may not be. We need a TOR for TOR. For sure.