Clapper defends NSA's attempts to crack Tor network

The U.S. intelligence community works to crack anonymous online communication tools because the country’s adversaries use those tools, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on the agency’s Tumblr Friday. 

Clapper was responding to a report from The Guardian that the National Security Agency has attempted to infiltrate the Tor network, which obscures users’ identities.

Intelligence officials are only looking for “communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes,” Clapper wrote.

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News reports about the NSA’s attempts to infiltrate Tor “fail to make clear that the Intelligence Community’s interest in online anonymity services and other online communication and networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools our adversaries use to communicate and coordinate attacks against the United States and our allies,” he wrote.

“In the modern telecommunications era, our adversaries have the ability to hide their messages and discussions among those of innocent people around the world. They use the very same social networking sites, encryption tools and other security features that protect our daily online activities.”

When members of the intelligence community look for these communications, they “operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens,” he said.