Tor Project Confirms Assault Claims Against Former Employee

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The Tor Project has completed an internal investigation into a former employee accused of sexual misconduct, and concluded that he was involved in incidents where those inside and out of the organization were "humiliated, intimidated, bullied, and frightened."

Jacob Appelbaum resigned from the nonprofit digital privacy group two months ago. Appelbaum, a cyber-security expert who co-authored a book with WikiLeaks's Julian Assange, reportedly sexually, emotionally, and physically abused people.

In a June 6 Twitter post, Appelbaum said "a calculated and targeted attack has been launched to spread vicious and spurious allegations against me." He chalked up the allegations to "attempts to undermine my work."

The Tor Project's seven-week investigation into the allegations included interviews with "many individuals" who came forward with first-person accounts and other information. Tor also "identified two additional people as having engaged in inappropriate conduct, and they are no longer involved with the Tor Project," according to Tor Project Executive Director Shari Steele.

"I want to thank all the people who broke the silence around Jacob's behavior," Steele said. "It is because of you that this issue has now been addressed. I am grateful you spoke up, and I acknowledge and appreciate your courage."

Appelbaum's departure from the nonprofit isn't the only change: The Tor Project replaced its entire board with a new set of directors, and outlined other adjustments. The Tor Project is rolling out anti-harassment and conflicts-of-interest policies, as well as procedures for submitting complaints and an internal complaint review process.

Outside the organization, the Tor community created a council to help resolve issues; it is developing membership guidelines, a code of conduct, and a social contract, which should be approved at the end of September.

"I believe these new policies and practices will make the Tor Project and the Tor community significantly healthier and stronger," Steele said.

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