The Department of Justice (DOJ) had a pretty weird point on the privacy of Tor users when asked about the FBI’s attack on 1300 Tor users’ privacy. According to them, Tor users have no expectation of privacy.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation uploaded a malware to a Tor relay back in the summer of 2015, which exposed the privacy of around 1300 users. This lead to the bust of many users of hidden services.
Judge Robert J. Bryan, who ruled in the case of Jay Michaud, a Vancouver public school employee accused of accessing child porn images on Playpen (a notorious child abuse site that had been previously shut down by law enforcement authorities), said that the man’s IP address was “public information” and it is like an “unlisted phone number”.
The whole issue of the case is that the question of whether a person has a right to privacy while using Tor.
The government published an argument similar to Judge Bryan’s on last Friday:
“Even if a defendant wants to seek to hide his Internet Protocol address through the use of Tor that does not cloak the IP address with an expectation of privacy. While Michaud may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in stored information contained on his computer, he lacks a reasonable expectation of privacy in IP address information that belongs to an internet service provider and that is voluntarily shared with others in the course of Internet communications.”
“Under normal use of the Internet, that communication to the site would have revealed Michaud’s IP address to the [FBI’s] web server. The authorized NIT merely caused Michaud’s computer to send such information into the District,” the government added.