The Tor Project published a blog on August 9, 2016, revealing their new social contract which includes the “no backdoors” pledge.
In the blog, The Project has also said that the tools they make help to promote and protect human rights and that they make it possible through a set of guiding principles, which for a long time had remained unspoken.
The social contract has now been written, taking a cue from their friends at Debian, to make sure that the contributions of the project members reflect commitment to their ideals.
Tor’s social contract specifies a set of goals and behaviors. In fact, it does not just promise results for its community, but also the ways of achieving them.
Further, Tor Project wants to grow by supporting and advancing the set of guidelines as they would be helpful in recognizing actions and intents of people that hurt Tor.
While some of the principles are established norms, others are aspirational.
However, the social contract is only one among the several documents that define Tor’s community standards.
Social goals are often complex and when there are issues related to applying the principles, Tor has said they would strive to uphold the safety and freedom of those using the fruits of Tor’s endeavors.
For example, at times opening a tool that is not completely open could undermine a user’s safety.
When using such as tool, they would first determine how much of it is required to make its technology usable and then be honest about the tool’s limits and capabilities.
Tor’s social contract, a promise from the Project’s internal community to the world, in a nutshell is as follows.
#1: Advancement of human rights through creation and deployment of usable privacy and anonymity technologies
Tor believes that privacy and proper access to information are an essential part of free societies.
The Project ensures this through their code and community standards.
#2: Tor to succeed through use of open and transparent tools and research
Tor is committed to transparency and, therefore, all development and releases will be open.
Whenever possible, they will make source code and binaries and claims related to them available for independent verification.
If open development undermines the security of its users, they will be vigilant in reviews provided by project members.
#3: Tor’s tools can be accessed, used, adapted and distributed for free
The use of Tor by a person does not imply anything about that person. The tools and services created would be accessible for use by anyone.
This is to say that a person’s ability to pay would not be the factor that would determine whether that person could access and use Tor’s tools and services.
Access will not be restricted unless it’s meant to ensure the security of the user.
The Project expects that many people would review and improve the code and research published by them.
According to them, this is possible only if people are able to use, copy, alter and redistribute the information.
Further, Tor would design, build, and provide tools without collecting any identity information from users.
#4: Through education and advocacy, Tor and their related technologies would be made ubiquitous
The Project does not only build software, but also advocates online freedom.
Tor teaches people to use the software and works to make the tools more usable and secure on the basis of feedback from users.
In addition to writing codes, advocacy and community outreach would also be included in Tor’s priorities.
#5: Tor will be honest about their capabilities and limits and related technologies
Tor will never intentionally mislead users or misrepresent their tools’ capabilities or potential risks and hold them responsible for reporting the state of their software accurately.
#6: Tor will never harm their users intentionally
Tor will always strive to write good code and will never implement either front doors or back doors into their projects.
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