Onion routing, the basis of free speech online

ahoj báječný člověk,

back to the roots, this week’s newsletter is about a fundamental routing technology being the de-facto backbone of free speech online: Onion routing. This routing technology was first proposed in this week’s paper in 90s (for you later generations reading this: 90s of the 20th century) and it’s current most popular use is in the TOR Browser. The papers describes the idea of routing packages trough different nodes and preventing each node to get a full picture of the communication. Definitely worth a read and if you have a server lying around, you should consider helping the TOR network by hosting a relay node.


Onion Routing is an infrastructure for private communication over a public network. It provides anonymous connections that are strongly resistant to both eaves dropping and trace analysis. Onion routing’s anonymous connections are bidirectional and near real-time, and can be used anywhere a socket connection can be used. Any identifying information must be in the data stream carried over an anonymous connection. An onion is a data structure that is treated as the destination address by onion routers; thus, it is used to establish an anonymous connection. Onions themselves appear differently to each onion router as well as to network observers. The same goes for data carried over the connections they establish. Proxy aware applications, such as web browsing and email, require no modification to use onion routing, and do so through a series of proxies. A prototype onion routing network is running between our lab and other sites. This paper describes anonymous connections and their implementation using onion routing. This paper also describes several application proxies for onion routing, as well as configurations of onion routing networks.

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