Many Internet users want to remain anonymous. Tor is free software that helps defend you on line against surveillance that threatens your personal freedom and privacy.
Tor is a product of the Tor Project. On the website you will notice that there is an Onion logo. Originally the Tor Project was called "The Onion Router"(TOR) and this gave rise to the acronym Tor. Tor also hosts websites that are anonymous. They all have the domain name .onion. The software not only protects the privacy of communications of individual users but of business and government users as well.
As Wikipedia describes Tor:
There are other ways of browsing anonymously than through Tor. Many people use Virtual Private Network (VPN) as a means of doing so. Most VPN providers charge but some are free but often just to try. A list claimed to be the best of 2017 can be found here. The appended You Tube video shows how the system works.
Roger Dingledine is a co-founder of the Tor Project, originally funded by the U.S. navy, which allows the user not just to surf anonymously but also to gain access to blocked sites and the deep web. It also hosts sites anonymously. While to some the dark web is a menace since it hosts criminal activities, to others it is a lifeline and allows political and other activity on the Internet and the use of services that we take for granted but for them are blocked. However, there have been numerous criminal uses of Tor on the dark web. Just recently a large deep web marketplace Alphabay was closed. It was said to have more than 200,000 users and $1 billion in sales. Dingledine claims that journalists like to hype the bad side of Tor saying: "I think a lot of it comes down to incentive mismatches,where journalists have to create more controversy and get something so that everybody will want to read their article. The story is privacy is under threat around the world, and that's been the story for a while - so they need a new story."
The line that Dingledine uses to defend Tor claims that it is not Tor so much as criminal gangs that are responsible for the crime on the Internet. However, this does not show that the criminals have not found a new platform for operation in Tor. Nevertheless Dingledline maintains: "I would say that there are bad people on the Internet and they're doing bad things, but Tor does not enable them to do the bad things.It's not like there's a new set of bad people in the world who exist because Tor exists. I still think that most of the bad stuff on the Internet has nothing to do with Tor."
While the government hoped Tor would be used by those in authoritarian and dictatorial regimes to get around blocks to access sites and also to allow them to browse anonymously the largest number of users are actually in the United States. U.S. users on an average day number 430,065 or over 19.5 percent of the market. In second place, rather surprisingly given its size, is the UAE at 314, 805 or 14.32 percent of the market. Next comes the authoritarian state Russia at 211,180 or 9.60 percent. Another surprise is the Ukraine next with much less population than Russia but with 206,603 or 9.37 percent of the market. In the top ten countries Germany, France, the U.K., Netherlands, and Italy all EU countries are included and also Canada. It seems that those in western democracies fear surveillance by governments, businesses and hackers, although some may be using Tor for criminal purposes.
Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network consisting of more than seven thousand relays to conceal a user's location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult for Internet activity to be traced back to the user: this includes "visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms". Tor's use is intended to protect the personal privacy of users, as well as their freedom and ability to conduct confidential communication by keeping their Internet activities from being monitored.