Announcement: The Tor Project is now accepting Bitcoin Donations

by phobos | December 17, 2013

Over the past year, we have received many requests for us to accept bitcoin donations. After careful consideration and research, we are thrilled to announce that effective today The Tor Project is accepting bitcoin donations. In partnership with Bitpay, bitcoins can easily and directly be donated to support Tor’s ongoing mission of being the global resource for privacy technology advocacy, research and education in the ongoing pursuit of freedom of speech, privacy rights online, and censorship circumvention. Check out our donations page now. Bitcoin donations received by The Tor Project will be converted directly to US Dollars.
Our decision to accept bitcoins has been well thought out and researched from a financial accounting perspective with an eye on passing our required annual A-133 audit. We believe we are the first US 501(c)3 non-profit organization to test acceptance of bitcoins and attempt to pass the US Government A-133 Audit Standard. Our 2013 audit results, along with our past financial documents, will be made available on our website once complete in 2014.
The Tor Project is also proud to be in the company of other visible non-profit organizations accepting bitcoins including EFF and Wordpress.
Why is this important? The Tor Project needs your donations to continue our mission and to keep the Tor suite of technologies ahead with the growing threats to privacy and anonymity around the world. Your donation made TODAY, through bitcoin, Paypal, Amazon Payments,, checks, money orders or bank transfers, will provide greater security and privacy for millions around the world who use Tor every day.
Help us continue our mission!


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December 17, 2013


Yay! I'm glad we finally got this going. We really need to get some funding for core Tor development, and especially for improving Tor's anonymity, because none of our current funders care enough about the anonymity side of Tor. Outreach and blocking-resistance are great topics, but we can't let the anonymity part rot.

(I am also excited to continue exploring getting us more independent from government funding, but that is a discussion for a different blog post.)

December 18, 2013


What's up with the increase of exit node blocking in the last few days? Is somebody using Tor to DDOS a bunch of websites?

December 18, 2013


Desperately wanting Tor to become more independent from government funding is a prominent goal of mine, too, and one of the main reasons I donate money and bandwidth to the project.

I have great trust in Tor's staff and its community, but it *looks* pretty bad when an $876,099 grant from the Department of Defense on "Basic and Applied Research and Development in Areas Relating to the Navy Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance" passed through SRI in 2012 is sometimes still discussed by the Executive Director as though it's funding from a "non-governmental organization". Yes, SRI is technically a non-profit organization, but everyone involved (and the public, via the Tor Project's own financial statements) knows where the money comes from, and that's what matters if you're a pro-democracy activist in the Middle East or someone concerned about the NSA collecting personal information. Receiving a DoD "pass-through" grant through a non-profit organization is just fundamentally not the same thing as receiving funding from an organization like Amnesty International or the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I don't even suspect that I would find any of the work performed under the DoD grant problematic, but $876,099 is still a significant chunk of the Tor Project's annual operating budget, few details can be made available about what's being done under that grant for contractual reasons, and I think it's fair to say that some of the ways this grant was reflected on earlier this year were potentially misleading to users who didn't dig into its financial statements.

But especially this year, receiving a big US Department of Defense pass-through grant with "Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance" in its title just isn't good for public trust in light of Tor's users, mission, and strategy. Frankly, it's probably not even good for the US Department of Defense's (whatever their objectives were) to be funding a project like Tor in this indirect fashion because of how it might look to foreign nationals. Tor's anonymity properties could be harmed if only Americans feel safe using Tor, for example.

Even if the project continues to accept funding that comes indirectly from the US military, I hope Tor won't accept money it knows is ultimately coming from the US Department of Defense in the Future. Or at least, I hope grants like this can be dialed back closer to something like 5% of the total budget, which might make conflict of interest concerns less of an issue in the eyes of Tor users. If future DoD funding required Tor staff to--for example, and I'm not suggesting this happened--secretly give the US military a capability that they can't tell their users about, and Tor Project staff were forced to choose between complying or losing their jobs, it would be just as bad as if the Electronic Frontier Foundation had put them in the same position. My point is that dominant funders (in terms of their share of a nonprofit's budget) influencing strategy and priorities (often subtly) is always an issue with any non-profit in any sector.

The Tor Project has been incredibly transparent about their finances, their activities, and their software. The Tor Project's user community should affirm, reward, and reinforce these values and help the project get to a point where no government will be in a position to make "offers they can't refuse".

So I hope other users will join me in helping to enable the Tor Project to move away from its Department of Defense funding by supporting it with more funding from individuals, code, and relays.


As for what specifically we've done for the Darpa grant, our sponsors page says it's from 2010-2014, and there aren't too many sponsors on who match that timeframe, so it shouldn't be hard to hunt down.

As for any sponsor becoming too large a chunk of our budget, I totally agree. On the other hand, if we have somebody who wants to pay us to do exactly what we'd like to do anyway ... the better answer is to grow our funding so a given funder isn't so large a fraction of it, not to turn down the money.

That said, I'm coming to realize that none of our funders really care about strengthening Tor's anonymity -- they typically figure we're doing a great job at it, and Tor's anonymity properties are satisfactory for their goals (e.g. censorship circumvention), so their funding targets other features. It sure would be nice to fund a funder who cares about anonymity, but I haven't found any. That's where this donations idea comes in.

December 18, 2013


"(I am also excited to continue exploring getting us more independent from government funding, but that is a discussion for a different blog post.)"

Be careful. Your goverment funders are reading this blog, too. 30 days or less can change tor forever.

Yep. I think they would all be pleased for us to find some more sustainable funding sources. It would mean we're in a better position to keep doing the things they want us to do (among other things that they don't prioritize as much).

The centralized nature of VPNs is certainly an issue, especially with the leaked documents this summer pointing to efforts by the intelligence agencies to collect keys for as many VPNs as they can.

As for NSA running Tor relays, it is possible. But the leaked NSA/GCHQ documents specifically point to the small relays they were running briefly, and conclude that running relays isn't an effective way for them to attack Tor.

That said, you are totally right to be worried, but you're worried about the wrong thing. You should be worried that they're *monitoring* existing honest exit relays and saving their traffic. See also…

December 20, 2013


The talking point about Tor being government funded and therefore unsafe is part of various propaganda campaigns. Those people don't want people to use Tor and are working against us. As an example, Mideast government agents work hard to get that message out to any would-be dissidents.

Please, for goodness sake, don't refuse free money! That's crazy talk.

The old way I used to phrase it was "we have 10 things we want to do. If you provide funding, you can help us choose which of those 10 to work on first."

And we *have* refused money from e.g. Saudi princes who want to learn how to kill their citizens more efficiently. There sure are some bad funders out there. That is not one of our 10 things. :/

That said, as mentioned above, one of those 10 things -- being sure to provide great anonymity -- never quite ends up being something funders want to pay for. It would be great to figure out better ways for us to work on that anyway.

December 21, 2013

In reply to arma


What would happen if you took the money and just didn't deliver? Would there be consequences? People accusing you of collaboration? Bad PR? These things are already happening.

I believe if you take money from a grant for yourself and run with it they hit you with something having to do on paying taxes on your new sudden wealth. Theft by deception can even be introduced.

Great job with Tor Project guys, I will be donating bitcoin to the cause also.

December 21, 2013

In reply to arma


Now that I think about it, those princes were probably working as government agents trying to lure you into a trap. They wanted to use the fact that you accepted their money as a reason for their people to mistrust you.

I don't know if this was the game that particular time, but in any case for these things the money never quite shows up the way they say it will, so the above question is sort of moot too.

December 21, 2013

In reply to arma


The usa government does not want anonymity. They fund you to distract you from the real work you need to do. Tor needs to go back to free software project, no money, no projects, no nothing. anything else is a compromise.

> The usa government does not want anonymity.

Actually, this part isn't true. I talk to law enforcement, diplomats, military, etc people who totally want anonymity. They use Tor and rely on it.

> They fund you to distract you from the real work you need to do.

Hey now, there's no need to reach for a conspiracy theory when actual facts are just as good. They fund us *and* we are distracted from the real work we need to do. (They fund us for a variety of topics, but lately focusing on Internet censorship circumvention, blocking-resistance, etc -- which is cool and useful (and matters to a growing number of Tor users as censorship goes global) but it is not everything we should be doing.)

> Tor needs to go back to free software project, no money, no projects, no nothing. anything else is a compromise.

The 'no money' part has two problems. First, core Tor developers like Nick will go get day jobs so they can feed their kid, and then very important parts of Tor slow or stall. Second, interface, usability, and packaging issues will get even less attention, as they typically do in most free software projects -- especially for platforms that none of us use, like Windows.

All of this said, I totally agree that we need to (re)grow the role of community in Tor, and we need to diversify the funding and have fewer strings on our funding. That's what this whole post is about.

December 20, 2013


i want give you lots of bitcoins over time. I have millions of bitcoins. your bitpay limit is too low. i cannot donate 2 bitcoins per day for a year. fix the problem.

I understand that you're trolling here, but a) $10m could sure go a long way towards stabilizing our ability to keep producing great Tor for years to come, and b) I hereby call your bluff about the ha ha weak crypto. Details?

No, we don't.

But you're welcome to not just take my word for it. Good thing all our stuff -- design docs, specs, source code -- are all open and we encourage you to look at them.

December 24, 2013


Hello,I'm searching a way to use the website copier Httrack with Tor (3.5). Maybe you could help me, please. I know it's not the right place to ask such a question but I don't know where to ask it.Thanks a lot.

December 30, 2013


This integrated version is much easier to use! I like that it offers one click for both new identity and removal of cookies and cache.

I hope the Tor team thinks about including the extension in a future browser bundle and defaulting to a larger screen size. The current size is small for the typical computer today.