America is one of the few countries that does not have any internet restrictions. Many countries that do cannot block TOR. Ukrainian official Andrew Kikhtenko, part of a drug unit for the Ukrainian police, says that TOR simply cannot be blocked. Ukraine is one of the many European countries blocking Russian sites as part of an embargo. Ukraine however, is alone on its stance to block TOR. While communistic countries have blocked it, those blocks are easy to work around. Ukraine was planning on implementing hard and deep restrictions that would have made the deep web completely inaccessible.
The only dark net reference in all of Ukraine is a drug report consisting of a high school student. That is right, there is only one police report that mentions TOR at all. It is interesting then, that Ukraine is one of the most outspoken critics of the deep web and TOR. While the police reports may not mention TOR, Ukrainian officials are certainly aware of it. In fact, Andrew displayed a remarkable knowledge of TOR in an interview that was recently conducted. “These users are actively using TOR browser – software that allows anonymous access to the websites by hiding at the same time its the IP-address”. While this is basic knowledge for all TOR users, it is a relatively new concept for many clear web users. Considering the fact that twenty three dark net vendors were caught this year alone by Ukrainian officials like Andrew, it is safe to say that Ukraine is one of the toughest opponents of the TOR browser.
The Ukrainian’s plan to commit over a Billion dollars in their plan to block the Russian sites following an international fallout. TOR could be used to easily bypass these restrictions however. While a court had ordered TOR to be restricted, this is not possible according to Andrew. “This sequence of actions is long and inefficient. We do not have a single body which is empowered to execute court decisions to block or restrict access to sites with illegal content. […] the investigating judge must be prepared for more than 8,000 individual votes.” This may be bad for Ukraine, but it is great for the deep web as a whole. The more participants TOR has, the better!
Andrew later explained that Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) do not possess the technical knowledge to block TOR. Considering that the whole system was made to circumvent blocks, it is not that surprising. With an estimated cost in the Billions, it is not likely that a simple court order will cause a shutdown of TOR. While dark net vendors in Ukraine risk investigation, they will be able to ply their craft safely.
To this day, Turkey is the only major country that has successfully and totally blocked TOR. Even that took a major effort and multiple court orders against ISP’s. The TOR blockage has resulted in some clear web performance downgrades however, and the restriction is under further review. TOR appears to be here to stay, and no government will stop it in the near future!