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Tor's First Crowdfunding Campaign



When we launched this first crowd funding campaign, we weren’t sure what would happen. We knew we wanted to diversify our funding sources; crowd funding gives us flexibility to do what we think is most important, when we want to do it. It allows us to fund the development of powerful new privacy tools. Or make the ones we have stronger and more resilient. Or pay for things we need like a funded help desk or an Arabic version of our web site.

But we didn’t know if people who like Tor would actually invest in our independence.

Now we do.

Together, our community has contributed $205,874 from 5,265 people to support Tor in this first crowdfunding campaign. We are so excited.

What we’ve seen, we think, is our community in action—our whole community finding ways to support us—by making a donation, or by sending us a bug bounty as GitHub hackers did. By making a matching donation, or just pinging their friends to help out.

Following our theme "This Is What a Tor Supporter Looks Like," you sent in photos of yourselves in Tor t-shirts doing back bends or teaching your daughters how to use Tor browser, or covering your face to preserve your anonymity but trumpet your support for Tor.

You sent fundraising notes to giant email lists. You tweeted screenshots of your donations. You bragged about your Tor relays (thank you) to inspire others. Some of you pointed out that Tor has saved your life.

The international Tor community rose up to support Tor’s independence in every way it could think of. And independence is power. Power to defend the rights of human rights activists. Power to defend the privacy of all of us.

Even though we’re a privacy organization, we found out what a Tor supporter looks like. It's someone who takes action to support their right to privacy.

Thank you.

Our deepest thanks to Tor’s wonderful champions, who put on the T-shirt first and took the plunge to support Tor in our first-ever campaign:

Laura Poitras

Roger Dingledine

Amanda Palmer and baby Anthony

Nick Merrill

Andy Bichlbaum

Molly Crabapple

Rabbi Rob and Lauren Thomas

Shari Steele

Cory Doctorow

Ben Wizner

Daniel Ellsberg and Patricia Marx Ellsberg

Alison Macrina

Edward Snowden

Giordano Nanni

Susan Landau

Ethan Zuckerman

Jacob Appelbaum

By Kate Krauss, for Tor's fundraising team:

Isabela Bagueros, Juris Vetra, Leiah Jansen, Mike Perry, Shari Steele, Sue Gardner, Katherine Bergeron, Nima Fatemi, Sebastian Hahn, Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson, Ben Moskowitz, Jacob Appelbaum, Katina Bishop, Colin Childs, and Kate Krauss.

Transparency, Openness, and our 2014 Financials

After completing the standard audit, our 2014 state and federal tax filings are available. We publish all of our related tax documents because we believe in transparency.

Tor's annual revenue in 2014 held steady at about $2.5 million. Tor's budget is modest considering the number of people involved and the impact we have. And it is dwarfed by the budgets that our adversaries are spending to make the world a more dangerous and less free place.

To achieve our goals, which include scaling our user base, we fund about 20 contractors and staff members (some part time, some full time) and rely on thousands of volunteers to do everything from systems administration to outreach. Our relay operators are also volunteers, and in 2014 we grew their number to almost 7,000 — helped along by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's wonderful Tor Challenge, which netted 1,635 relays. Our user base is up to several million people each day.

Transparency doesn't just mean that we show you our source code (though of course we do). The second layer to transparency is publishing specifications to explain what we thought we implemented in the source code. And the layer above that is publishing design documents and research papers to explain why we chose to build it that way, including analyzing the security implications and the tradeoffs of alternate designs. The reason for all these layers is to help people evaluate every level of our system: whether we chose the right design, whether we turned that design into a concrete plan that will keep people safe, and whether we correctly implemented this plan. Tor gets a huge amount of analysis and attention from professors and university research groups down to individual programmers around the world, and this consistent peer review is one of our core strengths over the past decade.

As we look toward the future, we are grateful for our institutional funding, but we want to expand and diversify our funding too. The recent donations campaign is a great example of our vision for future fundraising. We are excited about the future, and we invite you to join us: donate, volunteer, and run a Tor relay.

Tor Browser 5.5a6-hardened is released

A new hardened Tor Browser release is available. It can be found in the 5.5a6-hardened distribution directory and on the download page for hardened builds.

This release features an important fix for a crash bug in one of our patches. All users are encouraged to update immediately as this bug is probably exploitable if Javascript is enabled. The bug was not exploitable at High security level, or on non-HTTPS websites at Medium-High security level.

Note: There is no incremental update from 5.5a5-hardened available due to bug 17858. We plan to have this fixed for the next release. The internal updater should work, though, doing a complete update.

Here is the complete changelog since 5.5a5-hardened:

  • All Platforms
    • Update NoScript to 2.9
    • Update HTTPS Everywhere to 5.1.2
    • Bug 17931: Tor Browser crashes in LogMessageToConsole()
    • Bug 17875: Discourage editing of torrc-defaults

Tor Browser 5.5a6 is released

A new alpha Tor Browser release is available for download in the 5.5a6 distribution directory and on the alpha download page.

This release features an important fix for a crash bug in one of our patches. All users are encouraged to update immediately as this bug is probably exploitable if JavaScript is enabled. The bug was not exploitable at High security level, or on non-HTTPS websites at Medium-High security level.

In the past, signing Windows .exe files on a Linux machine caused verification errors on some Windows 10 systems. This should be fixed by adding the intermediate certificate in the signing process now.

Here is the complete changelog since 5.5a5:

  • All Platforms
    • Update NoScript to 2.9
    • Update HTTPS Everywhere to 5.1.2
    • Bug 17931: Tor Browser crashes in LogMessageToConsole()
    • Bug 17875: Discourage editing of torrc-defaults
    • Bug 17870: Add intermediate certificate for authenticode signing

Tor Browser 5.0.7 is released

Update: Clarify that the crash bug requires Javascript to be exercised.

A new stable release for Tor Browser is available from the Tor Browser Project page and also from our distribution directory.

This release features an important fix for a crash bug in one of our patches. All users are encouraged to update immediately as this bug is probably exploitable if Javascript is enabled. The bug was not exploitable at High security level, or on non-HTTPS websites at Medium-High security level.

Here is the complete changelog since 5.0.6:

  • All Platforms
    • Update NoScript to 2.9
    • Update HTTPS Everywhere to 5.1.2
    • Bug 17931: Tor Browser crashes in LogMessageToConsole()
    • Bug 17875: Discourage editing of torrc-defaults

This is What a Tor Supporter Looks Like: Ethan Zuckerman

Ethan Zuckerman

“I'm a Tor supporter for a very simple reason: my colleague's lives depend on it.

I'm the co-founder of Global Voices, an international community of bloggers, reporters, translators and activists dedicated to building a more inclusive picture of the world. Members of our community are located in more than 100 nations, and many members of our team live in countries where freedom of expression is under threat.

Some Global Voices members need to maintain anonymity so they can report from countries where their words could lead to imprisonment or worse. These threats are not imaginary - four members of our team were incarcerated for more than a year in Ethiopia, and our members in Bangladesh fear for their safety when they write about killings of secular bloggers, presumably by government-backed extremists.

We teach everyone who works with Global Voices about digital security, and Tor is a cornerstone of the toolkit we teach our authors and translators to use. In countries that monitor web traffic closely, frequently connecting to the Global Voices website could signal that a user is a Global Voices contributor. Correctly using Tor allows our authors in repressive nations to contribute to our site without revealing to local authorities that they are writing for Global Voices. We quite literally could not do our job in many nations we work in without Tor.

While financial support is critical for Tor to continue developing its tools, and while the real heroes of the Tor project are the thousands of volunteers who donate bandwidth and time to maintain Tor exit nodes, there's another way to help Tor: use Tor. Here's what I mean: in the most repressive countries we work in, we cannot use Tor because simply using strong encryption is so uncommon that governments seek out users of these tools. For Tor to be useful in an extremely repressive country like Ethiopia, it needs to be normal, as normal as HTTPS has become in the past few years. When you use Tor to do something quotidian, you're providing cover traffic for people who need to use Tor to do something extraordinary. So give, run an exit node, but at the very least, help make Tor utterly ordinary by using it as often as you can.”

-Ethan Zuckerman

This is What a a Tor Supporter Looks Like: Susan Landau

Susan Landau

“Communications metadata is remarkably revelatory. Just knowing what number you communicated with, when, and for how long can reveal whether you are having a flare-up of MS, seeking an abortion, or thinking about growing marijuana plants commercially. All of this comes from the numbers you call, and not what you say. It's why keeping communications metadata private is so important.

“Tor protects such data. It's not just journalists who need such privacy. It's human rights workers (that's why the State Department supports Tor), law-enforcement investigators checking out questionable sites, the businessperson collecting data to make decisions, the worker checking AIDS information or Alcoholics Anonymous over lunch hour on her private device but using her company's ISP. In a world of increasing surveillance, there's increasing need for Tor.

“I first began using Tor regularly in 2012 when I taught a freshman seminar in privacy. For one assignment I asked my students to try Tor and write a customer review. Tor was very clunky then. The fact that you couldn't simultaneously use Tor and the Firefox browser seriously diminished usability for me.

“Tor has much improved. The program runs faster, it is more secure, and there's greater functionality, including the ability to simultaneously use Tor and Firefox. I am delighted, but more is needed. We live in a world of pervasive surveillance, and Tor provides an essential service. Give generously and give often so that we can protect a modicum of private space in our increasingly public world. The privacy you protect may be your own.”

—Susan Landau

Support Tor Today!

This is What a Tor Supporter Looks Like: Giordano Nanni

Giordano Nanni

Giordano Nanni was a Tor supporter long before anyone at Tor actually knew him personally. Giordano and rap artist Hugo Farrant created the project called Juice Rap News in 2009. "We were adamant about using our respective art forms to bring attention to the issues that we care about,” Giordano says. “We are the generation that is living in the age of the advent of Internet. We are unique in this regard; no other generation will be like ours. We therefore have the blessing and also the responsibility of being the ones who’ll shape the Internet’s future."

Giordano and Hugo began posting Juice Rap News episodes in 2009 from Giordano’s house in Melbourne. "Episode 4 was our first episode about the Internet," Giordano says, "and we used the example of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange to explore the concept of digital rights and the importance of the Internet. It really struck a chord with people, and this encouraged us to keep going in that direction. We quickly grew from a little project that only few knew about to really having an audience. We went on to produce 35 episodes covering a wide range of subjects; but the topic of the Internet has always remained a constant theme throughout the series."

Giordano has fond memories of the events that led to the making of Juice Rap News episode 15: "Big Brother is WWWatching You" in which George Torwell makes his first appearance. "Jake [Appelbaum] came to Melbourne in 2012 to speak at a couple of events. While he was here he contacted us to say he’d like to meet up, and we all met for coffee,” he says. "Later on, we went to the beach and talked. Jake explained how Tor works by drawing onion router diagrams in the sand." Major data retention laws were being brought forward in Australia at the time, and by the end of their conversation, Giordano and Jake agreed on the need to create a Juice Rap News episode focused on surveillance, pointing to Tor as a solution.

Through Juice Rap News, Giordano and Hugo brought their creativity and humor to bear on the issues that concern them most, and Giordano continues that in his current work with the Juice Media channel—like his newest video: "A Message from George Orwell", in which George Torwell makes a new appearance to raise awareness about why digital rights matter.

"I feel that one of the unique responsibilities of our generation is to ensure that the foundation for the Internet is based in strong ethics of justice and transparency, as a democratic platform for openness and free speech", Giordano says. "Our mission with The Juice Media is really to explain these issues in an easy-to-understand way, and to make it fun."

Support Tor Today!

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