The Tor Project’s first crowdfunding campaign has raised over $200,000 in donations from over 5,000 sponsors, including high-profile figures such as whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg.
The campaign is designed to reduce an over-reliance on government grants, and will allow the group to develop “powerful new privacy tools” and tighten security in the existing Tor ecosystem.
“When we launched this first crowdfunding campaign, we weren’t sure what would happen. We knew we wanted to diversify our funding sources, and crowdfunding gives us flexibility to do what we think is most important, when we want to do it,” said Kate Krauss, a member of Tor’s fundraising team, in a blog post.
“We didn’t know if people who like Tor would actually invest in our independence. Now we do.”
The campaign is currently sitting at $205,874 from 5,265 individual donors, including security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and filmmaker and journalist Laura Poitras.
“What we’ve seen, we think, is our community in action. Our whole community finding ways to support us by making a donation or sending us a bug bounty as GitHub hackers did,” said Krauss.
The news follows a digital campaign called This Is What a Tor Supporter Looks Like, in which Tor advocates displayed their affection for the anonymity network.
— Internet Privacy (@InetPRRivacy) November 25, 2015
“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,” Krauss said.
“Even though we’re a privacy organisation, we found out what a Tor supporter looks like. It’s someone who takes action to support their right to privacy.”
Intelligence agencies and cyber crime investigators claim that the Tor network is used by criminals and hackers, but many technology firms use it to meet the privacy demands of customers.
Most recently, Facebook revealed an enhanced privacy feature for users of its Android app to let them browse the social network using Tor.