Tor Project Announces New Code of Conduct After Appelbaum Scandal

In a statement on the Tor blog, the executive director of the organization, Shari Steele,  announced that the Tor Project is implementing new policies and procedures to prevent future incidents. The incident in question would be the sexual assault allegations against one of the Tor Project’s leading developers, Jacob Appelbaum.

Several months ago the organization promised they would complete a full investigation into the sexual assault allegations – as of July 27, 2016, the investigation has been completed.

For several years, rumors had been spreading about Appelbaum’s behavior, yet he remained a prominent member of the Tor community and contributor to some of the Wikileaks articles. Appelbaum was one of the few who had access to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s top secret documents and he continued contributing as a journalist to the publication of those documents. He even attended security conventions while the sexual misconduct accusations came flying in – he just ignored them.

He eventually acknowledged and started denying the accusations, but as more reports surfaced it became clear that action had to be taken. On the 25th of May, 2016, Appelbaum stepped down.

After Appelbaum stepped down, the Tor Project investigation was in full swing and was led by a professional investigator. Steele says, in the statement, that the investigator discovered “inappropriate behavior” from two other members of the organization. While their identities remain a mystery, Steele claims they are no longer involved with the Tor Project.

“Many people inside and outside the Tor Project have reported incidents of being humiliated, intimidated, bullied and frightened by Jacob, and several experienced unwanted sexually aggressive behavior from him. Some of those incidents have been shared publicly, and some have not,” Steele wrote in the statement.

The new board of directors, according to the statement, approved the creation of a structure for reporting and addressing harassment complaints, as well as new policies to protect individuals from harassment and conflict-of-interest issues.

“I believe these new policies and practices will make the Tor Project and the Tor community significantly healthier and stronger. I want to thank all the people who broke the silence around Jacob’s behavior. It is because of you that this issue has now been addressed. I am grateful you spoke up, and I acknowledge and appreciate your courage,” Steele addresses the community.

The new policies, guidelines, and a code of conduct will be finalized after September’s upcoming developer meeting.

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