Yes, I read about this on the Activist blog. I am skeptical, because of the history
of such technologies.
My take on it is that it may or may not be true.
- (a) If it is true that Tor is impenetrable by the SS (includes Government military, CIA, FBI, para-military, police, or other Secret Services in any form), then maybe we can anticipate a piece of legislation that outlaws its use for civilian communication purposes. The SS after all have a legal duty to intercept and monitor all civilian communications as necessary, for them to meet their obligations for maintaining national security/defence. A government's job, after all, includes the responsibility for "protecting" the people - right? It's all about "Protect & Serve".
- (b) If it is not true, then the "documents" may have been deliberately released to con people into thinking it is true, so that the people continue to use Tor in blissful ignorance that their communications are being (or can be) intercepted, decoded and monitored by the SS.
The reasoning behind this is that all forms of modern electronic communication transmission, security, and encryption tend to stem from a purpose that originally had a solely military/defence use.
For example, 2 cases:CASE #1 - Encryption:
CASE #2 - GPS:
In the '70's, there was a legal limit on the level of encryption technology that could be employed in acoustic telephone modems. The standard (level) of encryption permissible was limited by the US DoD. The standard that was permissible was generally referred to as "Commercial" grade encryption, and it was allowable because it could be broken/decrypted by the military.
GPS had a similar military history. It was created and implemented by the U.S. DoD. I think it was originally operated via a 24-satellite GSS network, and fired up in 1994. It was enhanced in/by 1998 and given a much higher resolution (accuracy) technology, which was not available for civilian use (think Cruise Missile self-navigation/guidance systems). Civilian use was allowed only for a downgraded ("fuzzy") version of GPS. I recall that the U.S. government (under the Clinton administration) legally allowed the civilian use of the higher resolution technology in 2000 - the DoD presumably by then having a still higher resolution technology. This was a boon to cartographers and for cadastre upgrade. By now, China and European countries either have developed/implemented or are planning to implement their own GPS technology, so as to be independent of the US-DoD controlled variety.
From these 2 cases, you can see that, for such technologies, there seems to be a "Pandora's Box" type of window of opportunity:
Secure and impenetrable telecommunications, impenetrable encryption, and GPS, are each rather like a Pandora's Box. Once you start using a new military technology, it is only a matter of time before it spreads and the military advantage of that technology dissipates. The trick is to control it as "secret" for as long as possible.
In the case of encryption, recent history provides a sobering example of what can happen when the SS wishes to maintain control over such new technologies and prevent the advantage from being lost by them being made available for civilian use. When Phil Zimmermann invented PGP, he circumvented the prevailing US SS legislation restricting such a technology by publishing the complete source code of PGP in a hardback book, which was sold worldwide. Books are protected by the First Amendment. Anybody could buy the book, OCR-scan the pages, and they would thus have the full set of source code as text files, from which they could build the application using the GNU Compiler. From 1993, the SS hounded Phil Zimmermann under prevailing statutes
(including prohibited export of military technology), with legal investigations/actions for several years. Eventually, the SS seemingly closed the matter without filing any
criminal charges against Zimmermann or others associated with PGP's publication.
We have seem from a recent court case in the US that the owner of a laptop with impenetrable encryption (PGP - Symantec version) can be legally forced to divulge their encryption key or face criminal charges. You can probably lay a safe bet that the root problem - impenetrable encryption - is probably quietly being addressed at source between the SS and Symantec, possibly under threat of the "Zimmermann treatment", which is still legal - unlike waterboarding. So that loophole will be closed.
And, if it really is
impenetrable, then arguably the same could apply for the Tor technology.
And - for them as needs it - all this probably provides just more
fodder for the argument that the First Amendment needs to be scrapped, for the public good
, so that the SS can get on with their mandated and difficult job of security/defence. The potential "enemy" for the SS has also necessarily become Joe Public - and vice versa, perversely and by implication. We created this.