The Russian government has offered a sizeable reward for anyone who can provide it with the tools needed to unmask users of the Tor internet service.
A tender document shows that the government is offering 3.9 million roubles, around $111,000 or £65,000, to anyone who can produce a system for finding data on those using Tor.
The service is becoming increasingly popular in the country with those wishing to operate online without being monitored, as the government in Russia plans to introduce laws forcing all bloggers to register with the state.
Russia Today says that around 200,000 people are now using Tor, up from 80,000 at the start of the month.
The tender says a winner of the project will be announced on 20 August, if someone can find a way to crack the Tor service, which has for the most part remained secure from any attempts to snoop on its users. Criminals are even turning to Tor in order to launch attacks, as it helps them hide their activities.
The tender comes as Russia clamps down on the internet, with laws passing through parliament that would force tech firms such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft to build data centres in the country to ensure data gathered on citizens stays in Russia.
Jenny Hotchin, technology solicitor at Ashfords LLP, told V3 at the time that this law was just another attempt at internet control by the government. “The Russian State Duma’s decision to pass a bill requiring that all personal data of citizens is stored inside Russia is just another step towards restricting the use of the internet within the country,” she said.