Privacy is a Human Right

Privacy is a Human Right

Al Smith
October 25, 2021

Every year, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that builds and distributes the technology behind the Tor network and Tor Browser holds a fundraiser and we ask for your support. (If you’re a Tor fan, you probably know that by now!) And every year, we unveil new gifts and a slogan that highlight our values and the importance of Tor.

This year, our message is simple: Privacy is a human right.

Privacy is about protecting what makes us humans: our day-to-day behavior, our personality, our fears, our relationships, and our vulnerabilities. Everyone deserves privacy.

The United Nations codified that in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Article 12 states that, “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with their privacy” and that “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” However, governments, corporations, and other powerful entities block us from exercising our right to privacy in many different ways. With commercially available spyware, with covert monitoring of our communications, with ads that track us around the internet, with pseudo anonymous data sets purchased and sold and used to manipulate sentiment and sew division. And despite all this, we still have to fight to defend and fight to exercise.

privacy is a human right teeAnd that’s why Tor is here—to help you exercise your human right to privacy even when it’s not easy.

Every day, the Tor network helps millions of people connect to the private, uncensored internet. In the face of declining internet freedom, the creep of oppressive and repressive governments, the breakneck advance of surveillance technology, Tor remains a gold standard in privacy and censorship circumvention technology. Our decentralized network, our open source approach, our community of volunteers, and our commitment to the human right to privacy mean that Tor can offer privacy in a way that few other tools can.

In 2022, we have plans to make Tor even faster, stronger, and easier to use. Your support right now will allow us to: 

  • Modernize Tor, making it faster, more secure, and easier to integrate into other applications. Today’s Tor is written in the C programming language. C, while venerable and ubiquitous, is notoriously error-prone. C’s lack of high-level features also make many programming tasks more complex than they’d be in a more modern language. We’re working on a full rewrite of Tor in Rust, a modern language that will bring speed and security benefits to users—and ultimately mean that other applications and services can use Tor much more easily. A win for privacy!
  • Roll out major Tor speed improvements. Over the past year, we’ve conducted experiments with congestion control to improve Tor network speeds using a network simulator. We’re seeing extremely exciting results in speed and reliability made possible with these changes. In 2022, we will begin rolling out some of these improvements to the live network, making Tor faster for users, especially if you’re on a mobile device.
  • Improve the Tor Network health and invest in our relay operator community. In order to keep growing the Tor network and ensure it’s healthy and well-defended against attacks, we will roll out a series of initiatives to better organize our relay operator community and strengthen the relationship and trust between the Tor Project and the relay operators. Additionally, we will continue building tools that help us monitor the Tor network for malicious relay activity in order to remove these relays from the network.
  • Automate the circumvention experience for our users. When a user is facing censorship against the Tor network (e.g., their government has blocked all of the public IP addresses of Tor relays), it can be difficult for them to understand why they can’t connect. Is it censorship or some other problem? Similarly, it’s difficult for the user to know how exactly to change their Tor Browser configuration to circumvent this censorship. Our Anti-Censorship, UX, and Application teams have been working on this problem for a long time. In 2022, we will ship a completely new experience that will automate the censorship detection and circumvention process, simplifying connecting to Tor for users who need it the most.

The Tor Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and your support at this time is critical for our success in the coming year.

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If you give today, your donation will be matched, 1:1, by Friends of Tor.

That’s correct—every donation, up to $150,000, will be doubled. Now is an excellent time to give because your donation counts twice! Be on the lookout for events, giveaways, and new merch available from now until December 31. Stand up for the human right to privacy by making a donation today.

1:1 Match Provided by Friends of Tor

Now, take a moment to meet the Friends of Tor, the generous donors who are matching your donations, up to $150,000:

friends of tor - aspirationAspiration connects nonprofit organizations, foundations and activists with free and open software solutions and technology skills that help them better carry out their missions. We want those working for social and racial justice to be able to find and use the best tools and practices available, so that they maximize their effectiveness and impact and, in turn, change the world. We also work with free and open source projects and communities in both support and partnership roles, advising and contributing on matters of strategy, sustainability, governance, community health, equity and diversity. We design and facilitate unique and collaborative nonprofit and FLOSS technology convenings, and have run almost 700 in over 50 countries as well as online over the past 16 years.

friends of tor - jonJon Callas is a cryptographer, software engineer, user experience designer, and entrepreneur. Jon is the co-author of many crypto and security systems including OpenPGP, DKIM, ZRTP, Skein, and Threefish. Jon has co-founded several startups including PGP, Silent Circle, and Blackphone. Jon has worked on security, user experience, and encryption for Apple, Kroll-O’Gara, Counterpane, and Entrust. Before coming to the EFF, Jon was a technologist in the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project on issues including surveillance, encryption, machine learning, end-user security, and privacy.  Jon is fond of Leica cameras, Morgan sports cars, and Birman cats. Jon’s photographs have been used by Wired, CBS News, and The Guggenheim Museum.

friends of tor - craig newmarkCraig Newmark is a Web pioneer, philanthropist, and leading advocate. Most commonly known for founding the online classified ads service craigslist, Newmark works to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement. In 2016, he founded Craig Newmark Philanthropies to advance people and grassroots organizations that are “getting stuff done” in areas that include trustworthy journalism & the information ecosystem, voter protection, women in technology, and veterans & military families. At its core, all of Newmark’s philanthropic work helps to strengthen American democracy by supporting the values that the country aspires to – fairness, opportunity, and respect.

Jesse Powell is Co-Founder and CEO of Kraken.

friends of tor - wendyWendy Seltzer is Strategy Lead and Counsel to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT, improving the Web’s security, availability, and interoperability through standards. As a Fellow with Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Wendy founded the Lumen Project (formerly Chilling Effects Clearinghouse), the web’s pioneering transparency report to measure the impact of legal takedown demands online. She seeks to improve technology policy in support of user-driven innovation and secure communication.

We would also like to thank anonymous donors who collaborated to create this fund. This spot is dedicated to them as a small recognition of their support. As the Tor community knows, anonymity loves company, so why not join our anonymous donors and make a contribution, too? With their matching donation, your contribution has double the impact.

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Categories: Tor Project

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