Tor launches membership program to secure finance, boost integration

Members include Avast, DuckDuckGo, and Insurgo.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The Tor Project has launched the Tor Project Membership Program to secure the network's future by diversifying funding and deepening partnerships with other software providers. 

The non-profit's new scheme brings together Avast, DuckDuckGo, Insurgo, Mullvad VPN, and Team Cymru as founding members. The companies are all involved in the security and privacy realm and will help secure diverse funding sources. 

The Tor network reduces our digital footprints, prevents tracking, and can enhance our overall personal privacy. A system of nodes, .onion addresses, and relays spread across the world can circumvent censorship blocks, and the volunteer-led, open source network is a valuable tool for those concerned with being monitored online -- including activists, journalists, civil rights organizations, and more. 

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As Tor has increased in popularity, some third-party organizations now include integrated support for the network in their products. 

GlobaLeaks and SecureDrop, open source whistleblowing frameworks, use Tor to maintain the privacy of users. The Brave browser offers users a Tor-based "privacy window," and OnionShare, a website publisher, relies on the Tor network to circumvent censorship attempts. 

Tor says that the membership program is a "new way for nonprofit and private sector organizations to financially support Tor's work," and in particular, it will give the organization an opportunity to create a "more agile development process." 

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Tor says that as a non-profit, the organization often relies on grants that can take everything from six to twelve months to materialize after a proposal is accepted. 

However, as a software development entity, development, security patches, and changes to code required to keep up with updated web and OS upgrades need a fast turnaround -- and reliance on thee grants have created a " slow and archaic" development process as a result. 

"We can never execute solutions immediately in an agile way or experiment quickly with possible paths," Tor says. "We want to change that so we can respond to issues and start projects faster."

The membership program aims to expand third-party partnerships further, and organizations considering Tor technology are encouraged to join the scheme. 

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"We're excited to offer a way for companies to highlight their commitment to privacy and freedom online, support Tor's software development, and receive guidance in integrating Tor into their products," said Isabela Bagueros, Executive Director of the Tor Project. "Creating a better, more private Internet takes all of us, and the Tor Project Membership Program helps to actualize that vision."

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