Nos oignons is a not-for-profit organization created to collect donations in order to run Tor exit nodes.
Tor enables users to create anonymous connections and bypass censorship on the Internet. Tor is at the same time a piece of software, a network of relays made of more than 7,000 servers and a project around which fortyish people gravitate.
More information about Tor network on Wikipedia.
How to use it?
Nothing special has to be done to use the relays run by Nos oignons: they are part of the servers that can be chosen randomly by a Tor client.
About Nos oignons
Nos oignons is acting on the “network” front: we want to work on enhancing the quality of the Tor network by running “big” relays. These relays are located in data centers made to host servers connected to the Internet and have the corresponding bandwidth capacity.
Of course, this costs more than a simple broadband connection. This is why we created a not-for-profit organization and continously collect donations from the community.
About the name: in French the idiom for “mind your own business” is “mind your own onions”. So, we are minding ours, and these are your onions.
But then, you are helping bad people?
Tor, and in general software that enables people to protect their electronic communications, is useful to anyone. Because the internet usually allows services to know the origin of communications, services take advantage of this technical detail to put everyone under surveillance. Tor simply helps its users use the Internet without being presumed guilty.
“Bad people” did not wait for either the Internet or Tor to create ways to communicate. Actually, they have the resources needed to set up their own communication network (for example by hijacking thousands of computers to host content that is illegal in most legal systems).
Using Tor does not cost anything for anyone who has access to a computer and an Internet connection. Because of this, it is accessible to people with very little resources. For example, it is accessible to women who wish to escape surveillance by a domestic abuser.
And it's legal?
A Tor relay is a simple data carrier (mere conduit) in the terms of Article 12 of the european directive 2000/31/CE of 8 June 2000: we do not initiate the transmissions, we do not select the receiver of the transmission, and we do not select or modify the information contained in the transmission. Therefore, we are not liable for the information transmitted.
This article has been transposed in the french law by the article L32-3-3 of the Code des Postes et Communication Électroniques.