Amnesty International has today launched its global website as an .onion site on the Tor network, giving users greater access to its ground-breaking work exposing and documenting human rights violations in areas where government censorship and digital surveillance are rife.
In recent years, a number of countries including Algeria, China, Iran, Russia and Viet Nam have blocked Amnesty International websites, according to the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), in a deliberate attempt to suppress freedom of information and efforts to hold the powerful to account.
“By making Amnesty International’s website available as a secure .onion site on Tor, more people will be able to read our human rights research and engage with the vital work of speaking truth to power, and defending human rights.”Donncha Ó Cearbhaill, Head of Security Lab at Amnesty Tech.
However, audiences accessing the Amnesty.org website through Tor will be able to bypass attempts at censorship.
An .onion site is a website that is only accessible through Tor, a volunteer-run network of servers which encrypt and route internet traffic through multiple servers around the world, providing users with an added layer of privacy and anonymity.
“The onion site provides a means for individuals around the world to exercise their rights to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association in a safe and secure online environment,” said Donncha Ó Cearbhaill, Head of Security Lab at Amnesty Tech.
“By making Amnesty International’s website available as a secure .onion site on Tor, more people will be able to read our human rights research and engage with the vital work of speaking truth to power, and defending human rights.”
The new Amnesty onion site can be accessed using the Tor Browser through our secure onion address at: https://www.amnestyl337aduwuvpf57irfl54ggtnuera45ygcxzuftwxjvvmpuzqd.onion.
The browser must be downloaded and installed through the official Tor Project website.
How to access Amnesty websites using Tor
The Tor Project has a version of the Tor Browser for many common platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Onion sites can also be accessed on iPhone through the Onion Browser app. In countries where the Tor network is blocked, visitors will also need to configure Tor bridges which help bypass attempts to block connections to the network.
Amnesty International is also making language-specific content published in Chinese, Farsi and Russian available on the Amnesty International Tor onion website.
“We are thrilled that one of the most recognized human rights organizations has adopted an onion service to provide greater online protections for those seeking information, support and advocacy. Amnesty International’s choice to offer an onion version of their website underlines the critical role of this open-source privacy technology as an important tool in our shared work of advancing human rights,” said Isabela Fernandes, Executive Director, the Tor Project.
What are .onion sites?
Onion services never leave the Tor network. Their location and IP addresses are hidden, making it difficult to censor them or identify their operators. In addition, all traffic between users and onion services is end-to-end encrypted. As a result, users leave no metadata trail making it impossible for their identity or internet activity to be tracked.
Both Tor and virtual private networks (VPNs) can help internet users bypass website blocking and censorship.
Tor routes connection through a number of volunteer run and randomly assigned servers preventing anyone individual or organization from being able to track both the identity and internet activity of users while a VPN connects through a single privately owned server.
The Tor software was first released more than 20 years ago and is now developed and maintained by the Tor Project, a US-registered not-for-profit organization which is focused on advancing human rights and freedoms by creating and deploying free and open-source anonymity software and privacy technologies.