Tor Turns To Crowdfunding To Lessen Its Dependence On Government Money

Tor, the network that facilitates hidden communications and secure Internet activity, has begun accepting donations in a move aimed at lessening its financial dependence on the U.S. government.

The organization, which The Verge reports as relying on government donations for 80-90 percent of its financial backing, kicked off its campaign with a brief profile of Laura Poitras, the filmmaker behind the documentary on the Edward Snowden-NSA leaks and a leading privacy advocate.

“There are so many reasons…that we want to protect our privacy and not broadcast every move we make online. Tor is an essential tool that is needed by people to do what they do. It fosters free speech and independent voices.” she said.

Poitras, who is on the U.S. government’s watch list, added that, without Tor, she would not have been able to communicate with Snowden.

While the crowdfunding campaign has gotten off to a relatively low-key start, with a post on the Tor blog and a handful of media reports, the need for a larger slice of independent donations has become all the more apparent this month.

That’s because of reports suggesting that researchers at Carnegie Mellon were paid $1 million by the FBI for research on how to crack Tor. A fairly vague statement issued by university stated that the claims — which were first raised by Tor — were “inaccurate” and that Carnegie Mellon was issued with a subpoena “requesting information about research it had performed.”

Carnegie Mellon wasn’t specific on the inaccuracies of the claims but, nonetheless, cyber security watchers have questioned whether there was some form of collusion between the two parties.

Tor is taking donations at this webpage here.