Andrew Lewman, one of the early founders and directors of TOR, spoke with a writer about many topics. He has had a very successful career, but left the TOR team a couple years ago to pursue a better opportunity. Andrew currently works for OWL Cyber security, but has stayed in touch with the deep web and its workings. His thoughts are valuable, so today we will go over his opinions and our take on them.
Andrew has always been on the side of the law, often meeting with government officials to talk about TOR. The writer who spoke with Andrew, Patrick Howell, spoke with Andrew about his dealings with the government. According to Patrick, “[Andrew’s] meetings with governments have gone from educating officials on how people use Tor to helping law enforcement investigate criminal activity occurring on Tor”. The government is catching on to the newest threat, the dark web. TOR has grown faster then even its creators could have hoped for, and can be compared to big name browsers like Google Chrome.
Andrew said that the idea for TOR’s unique privacy system came from a government project in the late twentieth century. While they could not see the potential in the onion security system, TOR certainly utilizes it to the maximum effect. TOR is a hotbed for criminal activity, but it also has legitimate uses. Not even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) contests this. In fact, in a complaint against silk road founder Ross Ulbricht, the FBI said that “TOR has known legitimate uses” and that “Bitcoin are not illegal.. and have legitimate uses”.
Andrew is not fully satisfied with how TOR turned out. While he appreciates the growth and knew from the start that TOR would attract illegal activity, he says that the silk road really corrupted the deep web. Andrew said that the TOR directors were disappointing with the way TOR ended up growing. “We had all these hopeful things in the beginning but ever since Silk Road has proven you can do it, the criminal use of Tor has become overwhelming. I think 95 percent of what we see on the onion sites and other [dark net markets] is just criminal activity. It varies in severity from copyright piracy to drug markets to horrendous trafficking of humans and exploitation of women and children.”
Andrew also discussed Secure Drop, a TOR based tool that allowed sources to spread stories anonymously. Many reputable media outlets like The New Yorker and The Washington Post use the tool. When asked about it, Lewman said that “You have [Secure Drop] because it sounds good, but effectively no one uses it at all. Almost every time if someone does manage to upload some documents they end up doing it by email because they get so sick of the back and forth over the hidden service. Andrew’s reluctance to give the service the credit it deserves is curious, but his opinion is certainly out of line with the facts. Maybe he has access to some inside information that we do not have.
Andrew’s take on the many topics we discussed are invaluable. Who better to talk about TOR than one of its original founders? We would like to thank CyberScoop who officialy conducted the interview, and Andrew Lewman for his thoughts.