Infrastructural power: Dealing with abuse, crime, and control in the Tor anonymity network

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter reports on the first empirical criminological research on the Tor Project, the organisation which develops the Tor anonymity network. There has been little focus as yet by cybercrime researchers on the human factors shaping the platforms and infrastructures on which the Internet depends. These are emerging as powerful technologies of control and profound sites of resistance in contemporary societies, increasingly taking on responsibility for enormous user communities and the crime and abuse which comes with them. Of these, I focus on Tor, an international anonymity infrastructure which offers its users extremely strong protections against online surveillance and censorship. Tor has become a particularly important subject of criminological research on online crime. However, there is as yet no criminological research which deals with how the people who develop and maintain Tor understand these issues. Through interviews and archival research, I study how this community perceive Tor’s use for crime and harm and how they navigate these issues in practice, identifying three distinct sites at which Tor deals with crime, and three concomitant ways of making sense of Tor’s crime problem (conceptualised as ‘social worlds’ of Tor). I explore how Tor has developed from a disruptive character to an increasingly governmental one, and the implications of this for understanding the role of platforms and infrastructures in the governance of online crime more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCybercrime in Context
Subtitle of host publicationThe human factor in victimization, offending, and policing
EditorsMarleen Weulen Kranenbarg, Rutger Leukfeldt
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783030605278
ISBN (Print)9783030605261
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2021

Publication series

NameCrime and Justice in Digital Society
PublisherSpringer, Cham

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • cybercrime
  • Darknet
  • Tor
  • power
  • infrastructure


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