With the news that the Iranian government has banned Gmail, it becomes more evident that the TOR network (and other anonymizing tools) are necessary on the Internet.
It can be hard for a Westerner to believe that this kind of anonymity is needed, but when simply speaking against the government can lead to arrest, jail time, and even execution… well, it’s easy to see where you wouldn’t want to broadcast your identity.
The EFF pointed out how hosting a TOR router helps protesters in Iran (among other places) last year:
Internet users in Iran are using Tor to both (a) circumvent censorship systems and (b) remain anonymous while reading and writing on the Internet. Both are critically important to the safety of protesters, many of whom fear retaliation from the government. Preliminary reports indicate that use of the Tor client in Iran has increased in the days after the contested election.
That article also explains how your PC is needed to help, and some more basics about the TOR network.
With Iran’s banning of Gmail, it looks like that time has come again. Turn your avatars green on social networks, sure. But if you really want to make a difference, now, then start up a TOR relay on your own home network. You can limit the bandwidth used so it can literally help those struggling for freedom – and still have your YouTube videos load buffer-free.