Porkins Policy Radio episode 26 Peeling the onion behind Tor, EFF, and John Perry Barlow

On this week’s episode we peel back some of the layers behind the TOR Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a man at the center of both, John Perry Barlow.  We take a look at Tor’s longtime government funding and how this has helped shape the project.  We investigate some of the project members such as Jacob Applebaum and Runa Sandvik, both of whom have played up their techno-activist street cred while simultaneously receiving massive salaries from the US government.  Lastly, we take a critical look at the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Perry Barlow, and make the case for his integral partnership in the Snowden/NSA psy-op.  This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is really going on with the NSA scandal, but hopefully this will open up the door for you to begin investigating for yourself.

Download PPR episode 26

Show Notes:

Almost everyone involved in Tor was (or is) funded by the US government

EFF press release on Omidyar network and Tor Project

EFF annual report for 2009-2010 (the most up to date annual report available online)

Q&A marathon with Jacob Applebaum and Roger Dingledine

Snowden’s first move against the NSA was a party in Hawaii

Why Spy?

Freedom the Press Foundation



Sylvester – “Do you wanna funk”

Sylvester – “You make me feel (mighty real)”


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  • David Brown  On August 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Great podcast. Thanks for your excellent work.

  • Jimmy Some Guyperson  On August 17, 2014 at 12:35 am

    The promoters might be suspect, but Tor does offer the only currently working decentralized solution to spying by an adversary the size of a state.

    When a Tor node talks to a web site securely (using https), it is mathematically impossible to know where you are and what the conversation is about. A passive attacker, such as a nation-state’s intelligence gathering agency, can see that someone using Tor accessed some particular website, but if that site has up-to-date https (TLS) support, they can’t snoop on any of the data.

    What’s more, if a server uses Tor’s Hidden Services, it makes it very hard for an agency to track it down. If it serves enough traffic, its usage patterns could be correlated with passively monitored internet traffic patterns. This area still needs some work, but even when Hidden Services fail, the end-user, the person using a browser through Tor to access a web page, remains anonymous.

    So I get that the people are suspect, but Tor is open source, and the math has been studied for a while and it seems pretty sound. At least cryptographers think so, as do all the various people that have reviewed the Tor source code (me not being one of them, though it is within my reach).

    John Perry Barlow sure is a sketchy character, but that don’t make the math bad. Remember, the Internet was a DARPA project, and here you are, with podcasts, thanks to seed funding from The Man. Also bear in mind that the NSA has booth helped and hurt the cryptography community — helped when they fixed the DES, an encryption standard from the 80s, without explaining what they were doing, only to be validated later by independent research. The hurt was when encryption schemes were regulated by munitions export law, or recently when they subverted ssl setups for routers made by large companies by bribing them, among other things.

    I could go into more detail about the pre-paypal history of this stuff. All the people mentioned, Applebaum, Greenwald, Snowden, et. al. , I view with suspicion. But Tor existed before Appelbaum, and the spying revelations existed before Snowden (see Russ Tice). So — and here’s where things get speculative — It’s possible that Snowden at al are part of a psyop, and promoting Tor is part of the cover, to acquire legitimacy.

    As it is, Tor + SSL is the only way to talk to a server anonymously, as verified by a thousand eyes studying the code. When flaws are discovered, they’re fixed quickly.

    Why don’t Applebaum and friends promote Linux? I think Linux offers something entirely separate from the Tor project. Tor is a complete package application, anyone can use it. Linux is an operating system that one doesn’t run on whim for a few minutes. Don’t misunderstand, I think a full open-source computing stack — including the hardware — is necessary for absolute secrecy. But if you don’t want to switch from Windows to Linux, you could still have more anonymity than using a plain web browser.

    I could go on, but… Let me know if you’re interested in more from this cryptoanarchist perspective.

  • kariflack  On December 21, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    great work. information clear and well put together, thanks.

  • whereyouaiming  On April 6, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve heard Robert Steele in an interview saying he believes Snowden and Assange are not what they seem so I think Steele is prob legit

  • icy  On May 19, 2015 at 8:01 pm

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  • fern  On June 3, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Appreciating the commitment you put into your site and
    detailed information you present. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t
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  • Cat  On June 22, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    So how do you account for the recent info about government’s forcing of Google to give them Applebaum’s emails?

    IF Appelbaum was one of theirs so to speak in creating Tor, why would they then go after him for Wikileaks? Of is it a case of even if he was an asset for them with Tor, witting or otherwise, they’ll screw you even if you’re supposedly on their side?


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