Say you wanted to join a chat room for platform shoes but didn’t want anybody to find out about your obsession. Step into the darknet, or Tor, and your sandal-loving friends will be none the wiser. By using the Tor channel, your inquiries would ricochet like a pinball across a series of relay points set up by other Tor users, making the origins of the inquiry (and you) very difficult to track down. The Tor Project helps people remain anonymous on the Internet, and now it’s encouraging participants to buy space on the Amazon cloud network, which would build more points of relay.
Tor has played a big part in the Arab Spring and other recent uprisings, allowing users who might otherwise be jailed or worse, to communicate anonymously. But, as you can imagine, anonymity lures all kinds. Pirated music, movies, and software are often distributed through Tor, and it’s a notorious hangout for child porn traders.