Developers
September 28, 2020

Tor Project Looks to Secure Funding For More Agile Development

The Tor Project is undergoing a significant shift in its fund-raising model, a move that could have far-reaching implications.

The Tor Project has announced it is looking to secure funding in an effort to help it become more agile in its development process. This is good news for developers and privacy-conscious individuals around the world.

What Is Tor and the Tor Project?

The Tor Browser is designed to allow users to securely and anonymously browse the internet. As such, it is designed to help individuals circumvent tracking, surveillance and censorship.

While many users view privacy and security as important features, for many others they are matters of life and death. Journalists, aid workers, dissidents and others rely on Tor and similar software to work safely, and protect their very lives.

Tor stands for “The Onion Router.” The name aptly describes how Tor works, and the kind of security it provides. Like an onion that has multiple layers, Tor provides multiple layers of encryption to ensure traffic is secured as it passes over the Tor network. The network is comprised of thousands of servers, or Tor relays, operated by volunteers.

In addition, the Tor Browser helps prevent websites from ‘fingerprinting’ a user, or using cookies to track where someone has been and use that information to build a profile about them. Instead, Tor makes all users look the same, and isolates website information to prevent cross-tracking. It also deletes cookies and web browsing history at the end of each session.

The Tor Project takes seriously its mission statement:

“To advance human rights and freedoms by creating and deploying free and open source anonymity and privacy technologies, supporting their unrestricted availability and use, and furthering their scientific and popular understanding.”

Funding Development

As a nonprofit, the Tor Project has relied largely on grants to fund development. There are a number of issues with that model, as explained on the project’s blog:

”The traditional grants that nonprofits normally depend on, be that from governments or private foundations, have a long turn-around period (six to twelve months from submission of a proposal to the receipt of a contract and start of work). That means when a proposal is accepted and a grant contract is signed, we begin work on the project that we outlined sometimes more than a year prior.

”Because we are a software development organization, relying only on grant funding, forces us into a development model that is slow and archaic. We can never execute solutions immediately in an agile way or experiment quickly with possible paths. We want to change that so we can respond to issues and start projects faster. And we can do that by increasing the number and amount of unrestricted contributions to the Tor Project.”

As a result, the Tor Project is launching the Tor Project Membership Program. This program will provide “a new way for nonprofit and private sector organizations to financially support our work.”

The new funding model will give the project much greater flexibility, through access to unrestricted funds. When an organization operates off of grants, it must spend grant money exclusively on what it received the grant for. As the Tor blog highlights, this can make adapting to current trends and needs difficult. Unrestricted funds, in contrast, give the organization the ability to focus on whatever it deems important, whenever the need arises.

In addition to developmental freedom, the move to a membership program helps the Tor Project maintain good relations with companies and ordinations that have a vested interest in supporting the project, or that may want to integrate it into their own products and services.

“For-profit and nonprofit organizations have supported Tor in the past,” continues the blog. “For example, DuckDuckGo and Mozilla have been long-time supporters. But there was something missing from these relationships. Everything else at Tor is based on community and relationship, so we decided to build a program that could bring some of that community support to our relationships with other organizations.

“We know that many companies and organizations would appreciate direct contact with our team for support or consultation on privacy and security. The organizations that become members of our program will have access to our Onion Advisors group to help integrate Tor into their product or answer technical questions about privacy, censorship circumvention, and other areas of our expertise.”

The Tor Project’s announcement is an exciting development in the world of privacy and cybersecurity. Already one of the most important software packages in existence, Tor’s new membership program will be a boon to development. It will give the organization freedom to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances. In addition, it will help other companies better integrate the privacy software.

The future is looking bright for Tor, and the millions of individuals who rely on it.

TagsAgile DevelopmentTor Project
Matt Milano
Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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DevelopersSeptember 28, 2020
Tor Project Looks to Secure Funding For More Agile Development
The Tor Project is undergoing a significant shift in its fund-raising model, a move that could have far-reaching implications.

The Tor Project has announced it is looking to secure funding in an effort to help it become more agile in its development process. This is good news for developers and privacy-conscious individuals around the world.

What Is Tor and the Tor Project?

The Tor Browser is designed to allow users to securely and anonymously browse the internet. As such, it is designed to help individuals circumvent tracking, surveillance and censorship.

While many users view privacy and security as important features, for many others they are matters of life and death. Journalists, aid workers, dissidents and others rely on Tor and similar software to work safely, and protect their very lives.

Tor stands for “The Onion Router.” The name aptly describes how Tor works, and the kind of security it provides. Like an onion that has multiple layers, Tor provides multiple layers of encryption to ensure traffic is secured as it passes over the Tor network. The network is comprised of thousands of servers, or Tor relays, operated by volunteers.

In addition, the Tor Browser helps prevent websites from ‘fingerprinting’ a user, or using cookies to track where someone has been and use that information to build a profile about them. Instead, Tor makes all users look the same, and isolates website information to prevent cross-tracking. It also deletes cookies and web browsing history at the end of each session.

The Tor Project takes seriously its mission statement:

“To advance human rights and freedoms by creating and deploying free and open source anonymity and privacy technologies, supporting their unrestricted availability and use, and furthering their scientific and popular understanding.”

Funding Development

As a nonprofit, the Tor Project has relied largely on grants to fund development. There are a number of issues with that model, as explained on the project’s blog:

”The traditional grants that nonprofits normally depend on, be that from governments or private foundations, have a long turn-around period (six to twelve months from submission of a proposal to the receipt of a contract and start of work). That means when a proposal is accepted and a grant contract is signed, we begin work on the project that we outlined sometimes more than a year prior.

”Because we are a software development organization, relying only on grant funding, forces us into a development model that is slow and archaic. We can never execute solutions immediately in an agile way or experiment quickly with possible paths. We want to change that so we can respond to issues and start projects faster. And we can do that by increasing the number and amount of unrestricted contributions to the Tor Project.”

As a result, the Tor Project is launching the Tor Project Membership Program. This program will provide “a new way for nonprofit and private sector organizations to financially support our work.”

The new funding model will give the project much greater flexibility, through access to unrestricted funds. When an organization operates off of grants, it must spend grant money exclusively on what it received the grant for. As the Tor blog highlights, this can make adapting to current trends and needs difficult. Unrestricted funds, in contrast, give the organization the ability to focus on whatever it deems important, whenever the need arises.

In addition to developmental freedom, the move to a membership program helps the Tor Project maintain good relations with companies and ordinations that have a vested interest in supporting the project, or that may want to integrate it into their own products and services.

“For-profit and nonprofit organizations have supported Tor in the past,” continues the blog. “For example, DuckDuckGo and Mozilla have been long-time supporters. But there was something missing from these relationships. Everything else at Tor is based on community and relationship, so we decided to build a program that could bring some of that community support to our relationships with other organizations.

“We know that many companies and organizations would appreciate direct contact with our team for support or consultation on privacy and security. The organizations that become members of our program will have access to our Onion Advisors group to help integrate Tor into their product or answer technical questions about privacy, censorship circumvention, and other areas of our expertise.”

The Tor Project’s announcement is an exciting development in the world of privacy and cybersecurity. Already one of the most important software packages in existence, Tor’s new membership program will be a boon to development. It will give the organization freedom to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances. In addition, it will help other companies better integrate the privacy software.

The future is looking bright for Tor, and the millions of individuals who rely on it.

Agile Development
Tor Project
About the author
Matt Milano -Technical Writer
Matt is a tech journalist and writer with a background in web and software development.

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