Venezuela has blocked all access to the Tor network, according to an Access Now report citing activists within the country. Coming just months after a new round of web blocks within the country, the latest block includes both direct connections to the network and connections over bridge relays, which had escaped many previous Tor blocks.
According to network metrics, Tor access in Venezuela had recently spiked in response to recent web blocks placed on local news outlets. Unlike previous blocks, the latest restrictions could not be circumvented by using a censorship-resistant DNS server like those provided by Google and CloudFlare. For many Venezuelans, Tor seems to have been the only way left to access the restricted content.
“This is the latest escalation in Venezuela’s internet censorship efforts, as it blocks higher-profile sites with more sophisticated methods,” said Andrés Azpúrua of Venezuela Inteligente, in a statement provided through Access. “This is one of their boldest internet censorship actions yet.”
Designed to outwit state-level web censorship, the Tor network routes traffic through a dense network of relays, making it nearly impossible for governments to trace what content is being loaded. More recently, Tor has supported a broader ecosystem of hidden services accessible only through the network, most notably the Silk Road and other cryptocurrency-powered drug markets.
In April, officials from the United Nations officially condemned web censorship in Venezuela alongside the broader detention of journalists. “Even under a state of emergency, the regulation as well as limitation or restrictions on web-sites and television signals transmitted over the internet are disproportionate and incompatible with international standards,” the official statement said.