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Law Enforcement Concerns Spur N.H. Library To Disconnect From 'Tor'

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The first library in the country to become part of the anonymous web browsing service Tor has disconnected from that network, at least for now.

Officials at the Kilton Public Library in Lebanon were contacted by local law enforcement with concerns about Tor’s ability to conceal criminal activity. Library officials chose to disconnect from Tor pending further review.

None of the computers at the library had the Tor browser.

The Kilton Public Library had set itself up as a Tor "relay node," which essentially forwards requests to view a website from the computer user to another relay node. A chain of relay nodes masks the identity of the user.

Sean Fleming is the Library Director of the Lebanon Public Libraries. He says most of the comments he’s received from the public have been in support of Tor.

"The mission of Tor and a lot of the American Library Association statements about what the purpose of libraries is, really I’m sure there’s a lot of overlap there," says Fleming.

The library’s board of trustees will meet Tuesday evening at the Lebanon Public Library to decide whether or not to turn the service back on. 

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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