Upcoming book launch (Apr 16th) - Tor: From the Dark Web to the Future of Privacy

Hi everyone,

With sincere apologies for the self-promotion, but I thought that this might be of interest to members of this forum. My upcoming book about Tor is being published by MIT Press on the 16th April 2024. Based on interviews with a lot of the people who’ve been important for Tor across its lifetime (both in prominent roles and behind the scenes) and extensive archival research, the book is a ‘biography’ of the Tor network, going from its roots in the Naval Research Lab in the 1990s to the present day.

As the book traces Tor’s history, each chapter also focuses on a different aspect of Tor - from the development of its anonymity design, to the vital work of the relay operators, to the activists and funders who promote and support it. Although the dreaded ‘Dark Web’ does appear in the title (apologies), there’s only a single chapter included on the massively overblown use of Tor for crime, and I make the argument throughout that cryptomarkets are if anything some of the least interesting things about this truly unique infrastructure and global community.

The book also maps the evolution of the culture and values of Tor - and the different groups and technologies that have shaped it across its lifetime. Although it’s based on academic research, the book is written to be readable for the general public as well.

Some early reviews:

“In this engaging treatment of a complex history, Collier makes a significant contribution to the critical discourse on privacy in the United States.” Bruce Schneier, author of A Hacker’s Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend Them Back

“Ben Collier’s Tor provides a concise history of an essential tool in the surveillance-fighting arsenal and the characters that made it so, while providing readers with a vivid sense of the zeitgeist in which Tor and its champions arose.” Jillian C. York, Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation; author of Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech under Surveillance Capitalism

I’ve also negotiated with the publisher to have the book added to MIT’s Direct to Open programme, so a free and open-access PDF will be made available on the MIT Press website at launch. But the physical book itself is really gorgeous, so I would (obviously) encourage pre-orders (here) as well.

If you have any questions about the book, please do post here and I’d be delighted to answer them!