I admit I'm not getting what "hidden servers" means either. Servers hosted on a machine that's hidden by a router or gateway that makes it "stealth" for most inbound traffic? Or is it the well-known trick of planting a trojan on some ordinary machine, opening up a backdoor for loading lots of kid porn and the like into that machine and then opening up to lots of other, anonymous users? Or just that the files and folders are listed under vanilla-sounding, innocent names?
Here is what is a TOR server/router about. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_%28anonymity_network%29
Ironically this is the same sort of thing that the government relies on for their own operations. You have to have secure/discrete communication systems for some government operations.
Undermining the systems that operate on the internet can do far more harm than putting in 'easy access' to a TOR system or even more frightening a cryptographic standard. By putting in backdoor systems into software and hardware you leave it vulnerable. Today it might be the US government, but when you have people handling the software and systems.. how long till a Snowden or Manning drops a system build on the internet or sells it to a company or country?
TOR systems are by their nature 'grey' at the very least. I've used one to check out Silk Road.. what you find there is a very different world from the world of Ebay, Facebook and even Eilliquy. The problem is it's a stone in the path. Today it's 'back doors in grey/black software' then you have the NSA engineering back doors into the encryption routines that we use for all manners of things.
Today the government says it's only in the 'pursuit of enemies of the state' that they use such things. Question is.. who defines that term? Today it's a racially profiled group of people who just happen to follow the faith of Islam.
Fifty years ago it was a man of faith from Birmingham, Alabama. (Martin Luther King Jr.).
With the amount of data and information one can get on a person online and via their electronic signature, the ability to follow/track/invade a person's privacy with minimal effort and time. Luckily warrantless GPS tracking (and a murkily defined group of things) were recently tossed out of a federal appeals court AND legislation was introduced to counter it as well. (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57575796-83/lawmakers-introduce-bill-on-warrantless-gps-tracking/
Today there are more ways, and more coming, that shrink the world. My issue isn't with the pursuit of perverts and terrorists but the methods being used have minimal oversight and even less regulation on it's use. Technology is rapidly advancing. The time between concept and implementation is radically shrinking. Edward Snowden stated there was little to no oversight or control on how the tools he utilized were used.
A lot of folks forget the State Department employee who tracked presidential candidates' passports in 2008
Back to the issue on hand..
Care to explain how a TOR service based who knows where falls within the jurisdiction of the Federal DOMESTIC Law enforcement agency? The guy the FBI are trying to extradite is in Ireland. Where is the crime? Is it at the point of access by the end user or the content provider. I know that might be a scary thought for internet entities, do you want to be held legally responsible to any of HUNDREDS of jurisdictions?
How does engineering exploits into the foundation of a phenomenally LARGE part of our world economy isn't a dangerous move?
Because of there will always be a class between the rights of the individual and the needs of the government. We are losing our equilibrium in the process.
I'm technically illiterate but frombwhat i've read, Tor's main intention and purpose was to be used to shirld human and civil rights groups from unsavory authority types and sadly has been repurposed to a degree by child pornographers and other criminal behavior and operations.
But even beyond Tor I'm sure there are many ways to hide or obscure ones identity on the internet. I'm curious if there are any alternative law enforcement techniques that can be utilized whether specifically against criminals using Tor or to broaden the conversation, against other methods of 'hiding' in cyberspace.
Can TOR systems be used for things like civil rights movements within countries like Iran, Syria or Egypt (just to name a few) where massive media suppression and surveillance is common place? Yes. And to some extent it is. It is also the 'shadownet' where warez sites, illegal item sites like Silk Road live and even where kiddie porn rings hide.
The big thing.. the FBI already KNEW that Freedom Hosting had kiddie porn on it. It had been reported by LOTS of folks.