‘We have no information to give you or to respond to any subpeona’s or court orders.
Do not bother contacting us for information on, or to view the contents of a Tor Mail user inbox, you will be ignored.’ Tor Mail webpage.
Tor Mail is a free anonymous email provider that hides within Tor hidden services, and is widely considered one of the most secure email services available.
However, it seems that last summer while investigating Freedom Hosting, a company known for hosting Tor hidden services, over allegations that it allowed its servers to be used for storing thousands of child pornography images, the FBI obtained a warrant to seize its servers, including a search warrant for Tor Mail. It is estimated that up to half of all Tor hidden services were hosted on Freedom Hosting servers, including Tor Mail.
A court case in Florida last week (involving selling counterfeit credit cards online where the contact address was firstname.lastname@example.org) demonstrated that the FBI have cloned the TorMail e-mail server, creating its own copy of ‘data and information, including the content of TorMail e-mail accounts on the Tor Mail server,’ and is now using this information to investigate unrelated crimes.
Although, thanks to the heroic efforts of Edward Snowden, it is the NSA that has taken the spotlight over the last few month for its mass collection of data, it widely undertstood by observers that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are involved in similar practices, something which this case amply demonstrates.
Although in theory cloning the Tor Mail server only gives the FBI access to emails stored on it at the time it was seized, we would strongly suggest that users worried about security find another service.