Tor Project appeals for help to carry on, expand anti-spying network

If you rely on Tor to hide your online activity, you might want to remember few good things in life are free.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The Tor anonymous browsing project has asked for donations to improve the network and invest in educational projects.

The Tor Project is a non-profit scheme which runs Tor. Otherwise known as The Onion Router, the system allows users to enter areas of the Internet which remain unindexed by common search engines.

The node-and-relay layout also skewers the original IP of the user, improving anonymity and thwarting surveillance efforts.

Thousands of users enjoy using the service, but little in life is free -- and Tor needs additional investment. According to the group, the new fundraising effort is intended for the purpose of raising funds to enhance the network and launch "educational" projects.

Tor leaned on the story of Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who blew open the agency's mass surveillance efforts, to promote the effort. Citizen Four director Laura Poitras, a donator and supporter of Tor, says that without the onion network there would have been no way to conduct her original reporting and maintain contact with Snowden, who is now wanted by US intelligence.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia and wishes to return home to the United States, but is currently awaiting a plea deal.

As the document leaks made the headlines, the resulting man hunt meant communication with journalists and the world at large while Snowden was in hiding had to be conducted through virtual private networks (VPNs) and Tor to keep his location safe. Poitras commented:

"Edward Snowden would not have been able to contact me without Tor and other free software encryption projects. Journalists need Tor to protect their sources and to research freely. It is an essential tool, and it needs our support."

However, it is not just journalists who take advantage of the increased anonymity Tor offers. The network is also an important tool for activists and those who wish to avoid censorship in specific countries.

Current sponsors include Reddit and the National Science Foundation.

If you wish to donate to keep the Tor Project afloat and expanding, you can join the fundraising effort here.

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