July 29, 2014 - 18:13 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Tor, the internet anonymizer, received more than $1.8m in funding from the U.S. government in 2013, even while the NSA was reportedly trying to destroy the network, the Guardian says.
According to the Tor Project's latest annual financial statements, the organization received $1,822,907 from the U.S. government in 2013. The bulk of that came in the form of "pass-through" grants, money which ultimately comes from the U.S. government distributed through some independent third-party.
Formerly known as "the onion router", Tor is software which allows its users to browse the internet anonymously. It works by bouncing connections through encrypted "relays", preventing any eavesdropper from determining what sites a particular user is visiting, or from determining who the users of a particular site actually are. That makes it popular amongst organizations trying to promote freedom of speech in nations like China and Syria – but also popular amongst users trying to evade surveillance in the West.
The two largest single grantors of federal money were SRI international, a non-profit research and development centre that aims to bridge the gap between abstract research and industry, and Internews Network, an international non-profit that funds programs supporting democracy and human rights. The latter gave $555,413 in funding originally from the U.S. Department of State, while the former gave $830,269 in funding ultimately stemming from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Tor Project also received direct funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of State, totaling $100,325 and $256,900 respectively.
Despite the NSA's attacks on the service, federal funding of Tor has actually increased year-on-year. In 2012, the organization only received $1.2m in funding from the U.S. government, none of which was direct.
Meanwhile, Russia has offered 3.9m rubles ($110,000) in a contest seeking a way to crack the identities of users of the network. The Russian interior ministry made the offer, saying the aim was "to ensure the country's defense and security". The contest is only open to Russians and proposals are due by August 13.
Russia has the fifth-largest number of Tor users with more than 210,000 people making use of it.