College professor asked to stop using and teaching Tor.

09 February 2007

Paul Cesarini of Bowling Green State University is an assistant professor of visual communication and has been using Tor (The Onion Router - an anonymisation system for net.traffic) to familiarise himself with it so that he could then discuss it with students in two of the courses he teaches. He was visited by campus police and a network admin and told to stop using it. It seems that someone else on campus was using Tor, and more's the point he was under investigation for fraud of some kind, and they wanted to know if the student under investigation had been under Dr. Cesarini in the past, and exactly why he himself was using the transparent anonymisation system. The investigation team produced a quantity of network logs showing Tor traffic on the campus network... some of which was from times when Dr. Cesarini wasn't even in his office, let alone using Tor to do anything on the Net. These logs also do not prove wrongdoing of any sort, because possessing and using encryption or anonymisation technologies do not immediately mean that the user is up to anything, save wanting some privacy.

They then demanded that he stop using and teaching about Tor in his classes. Dr. Cesarini gave them the rundown on Tor and what it's used for, and further stated that academic freedom would not permit him to do as they asked with a clear conscience.