Blocked from Using Tor? How to Get Around It


Tor is a widely used community network that provides internet anonymity for its users for free. It works by routing your internet connection through a series of servers in such a way that nobody can locate you.  So if you visit a political activist website in a foreign country nobody can trace that visit back to you.

Tor is wonderful tool for those who value their privacy but it is an essential tool for those who live under governments who are oppressive or attempt to restrict their citizen’s rights. However as we have seen in recent weeks, these oppressive governments often try to prevent people using Tor in their countries by requiring ISP to refuse Tor connections.

But there are ways around this. One way is to access Tor via Tor Bridge Relays. These are relays that aren't listed in the main Tor directory so they are difficult to identify. Furthermore there are many of them and they are dynamic, that is, the list of available relays changes over time.  This makes them hard to fully block.

The following video shows you how to make use of a Tor Relay.  It assumes you know how to use Tor. If not, then check out this video introduction to Tor.

 How to Use a Tor Relay


Note that Tor provides anonymity but does not provide end to end encryption so any message that is sent in the clear (i.e. unencrypted) is visible to all once it leaves the Tor network.  This includes standard email so if you email a friend via Tor that you will meet them in the town square and you will be wearing a yellow shirt with a green hat then you may well be met by somebody other than your friend!  So always use an encrypted email service such as Gmail

For ultimate security use an encrypted mail service and additionally encrypt the email message itself using a product like the free GnuPG (aka GPG) program.  It is not particularly simple to use but perhaps the easiest approach is to use the Thunderbird email client with the Enigmail security extension installed, both of which are free and work well with Gmail.  Be aware that using public key cryptography has significant inconveniences and you will need to trade this off against the increase in security provided.

Thanks to reader L. Davidson for this suggestion.


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