iraq volunteers
Volunteers who signed up to join the Iraqi Army to fight against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), carry weapons during a parade in the streets in Baghdad Reuters

The Iraqi government has blocked access to the Tor Project website but activists have begun setting up mirrors to allow those in Iraq to access the anonymous network known as the depp or dark web.

Last week it was reported that the Iraqi government had blocked access to numerous social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube over fears that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) was using the services to organise its insurgency.

Typically when governments block access such services, a spike in use of Tor is seen in the aftermath, as people seek to bypass such blocks. This was seen in Turkey last March when prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's blocking of Twitter and YouTube led to 10,000 new users accessing the Tor network every day.

What is Tor?

Tor, which stands for The Onion Router, is a network which anonymises web traffic allowing users to secretly access online resources and preventing government surveillance.

However the main Tor Project website has now been blocked in Iraq, meaning that those looking to use the anonymous web browser to communicate cannot access the necessary details.

TOR Browser - Anonymity Online

While the Iraqi government would be unable to block communications on the Tor network, by blocking the Tor Project's website it means those who don't know how it works will be unable to access download links for the software needed and guides on how to use the technology.

However there are ways around the block put in place by the Iraqi government, with a number of websites set up to give people the information they need. Using a VPN remains a decent option for accessing these sites, although the government has cracked down on their usage with varying success.

While there are numerous English-language mirrors available, a new website in Arabic has now been established giving people in Iraq simple instructions on how to download the necessary software and use Tor for themselves.