The Japanese National Police Agency (NPA) is asking that ISPs block Japanese Internet users that are using Tor. Tor allows users to surf the Internet anonymously and it prevents others from conducting surveillance on one's movements, or simply what is known as as ‘traffic analysis’.
Traffic analysis is used by law enforcement agencies to see what you are doing on line, such as places you have visited and with whom you are talking to. The use of Tor blocks this ability and allows your IP to be masked.
Now the Japanese NPA, which is their version of the FBI, is asking Japanese ISPs to block the use of Tor in some extreme cases since it hinders their ability to monitor cyber crime effectively. Currently, there is no official enforcement on the block, but some reports suggest the NPA may begin enforcing such a block on the network.
Tor’s open network is used by many Internet surfers to prevent what they feel is a threat on their personal freedom and privacy, business activities or financial transactions. Nevertheless, it is also being used for criminal activity for that same reason.
Japanese police have admittedly stated that they struggle with trying to monitor on-line traffic because of Tor or virtual private networks. Japanese law enforcement say these kinds of networks play havoc with effectively catching cyber criminals and on-line child predators attempting to hide their real location.
Tor or “TOR” was originally an acronym for “The Onion Routing project”. It was implemented as a third-generation onion routing project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory for encrypting or simply protecting communications with government and U.S. military personnel.
The Tor Project now runs Tor, and has been a nonprofit group since 2006 and their financial backing comes from a very eclectic group of contributors that includes the U.S. National Science Foundation.
The Tor Project volunteers say that the network is needed in this day and age because it helps protect the common Internet surfer. Tor can also be used to protect one's private interests online and can prevent price discrimination from e-commerce sites that sometimes change costs based on a users country of origin.