Anonymity network Tor has become a safe-space for white supremacists and paedophiles. Yet in nations where access to the net is curtailed, it’s a lifeline

The neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer finally crossed a line following the killing of a civil rights activist at a white supremacist rally it helped organise in Charlottesville, Virginia: a blogpost attacking victim Heather Heyer lead to it being chased from the web, first by technology companies who steadily refused to provide service, then by hackers who tried to crash the site.

Eventually, it sought refuge in the so-called dark web, launching a special type of site called a Tor hidden service, impervious to conventional internet censorship. In doing so it shone a spotlight, yet again, on a controversial technology that provides protection for dissidents in oppressive regimes at the same time as harbouring Nazis, illicit marketplaces and child abuse rings.

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