The Tor network is about to lose Tonga, a crucial piece of the onion network that functions as a Bridge Authority, according to announcement on the Tor blog. The announcement was posted by an original Tor contributor known as Lucky Green – who decided the time was right for him to step away from any involvement in the Tor community.
Lucky Green has been an important member of Tor’s history from the very beginning. His involvement started before Tor was ever called Tor and before the software we have today ever existed. Not only has he generously contributed time and money, he says in his announcement, but he also runs and maintains essential parts of Tor’s core. The Tonga node is one of these parts.
Bridge Authorities, like Tonga, are required for letting Tor users get around ISP-level blocks on a network. Some internet service providers, for instance, restrict access to certain websites for one reason or another – and Bridge Authorities prevent the ISP from intercepting those requests. In addition to initializing a substitute for Tonga, developers are going to have to push a Tor update since Bridge Authorities are hard coded in the software.
On the 31st of August, Green will be shutting down both Tonga and a significant number of fast Tor relays. His announcement lets the community know the developers will have ample time to come up with a temporary solution or find a node to replace Tonga. Thanks to his decision not to simply shut down the nodes without notice, Tor developers and users won’t have a surprise to wake up to.
His decision to remove himself from the Tor equation is not fully explained in the announcement, but recent events and ethics are both mentioned. The Register speculates his reasoning may have something to do with the Jacob Applebaum scandal or the board replacing itself with six new members.
Full text below.
Given recent events, it is no longer appropriate for me to materially contribute to the Tor Project either financially, as I have so generously throughout the years, nor by providing computing resources. This decision does not come lightly; I probably ran one of the first five nodes in the system and my involvement with Tor predates it being called “Tor” by many years. Nonetheless, I feel that I have no reasonable choice left within the bounds of ethics, but to announce the discontinuation of all Tor-related services hosted on every system under my control. Most notably, this includes the Tor node “Tonga”, the “Bridge Authority”, which I recognize is rather pivotal to the network. Tonga will be permanently shut down and all associated crytographic keys destroyed on 2016-08-31. This should give the Tor developers ample time to stand up a substitute. I will terminate the chron job we set up so many years ago at that time that copies over the descriptors. In addition to Tonga, I will shut down a number of fast Tor relays, but the directory authorities should detect that shutdown quickly and no separate notice is needed here. I wish the Tor Project nothing but the best moving forward through those difficult times.
Tor users can only hope other node operators don’t follow the route Green took – mass network disruption is among the last things we need.