The Tor Project Inc.

Defend yourself against tracking and surveillance. Circumvent censorship.

aka Tor Project   |   Seattle, WA   |  https://www.torproject.org

Mission

We believe everyone should be able to explore the internet with privacy. We are the Tor Project, a 501(c)3 US nonprofit. We advance human rights and defend your privacy online through free software and open networks. Since 2006, we have successfully helped global populations burdened by online surveillance and censorship access Internet resources more securely and safely with two gold-standard tools: Tor Browser and the underlying Tor network. Journalists, activists, whistleblowers, human rights defenders, LGBTQ+ and feminist groups, and average people concerned about their privacy use Tor to protect themselves from pervasive surveillance and safely route around censorship.

Notes from the nonprofit

To see all of our financial reports, founding documents, and other organizational records, please visit https://www.torproject.org/about/reports/.

Ruling year info

2007

Principal Officer

Isabela Bagueros

Main address

PO Box 4903

Seattle, WA 98194 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-8096820

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (U05)

Censorship, Freedom of Speech and Press Issues (R63)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (R05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

According to Freedom House's Freedom on the Net report, internet freedom has decreased each year for nine years in a row. Surveillance of journalists, marginalized people, human rights defenders, and activists is increasing. Online censorship is blocking people all over the world from exercising their right to accessing information. Invasive data collection is used to build massive profiles on our online behavior. At the Tor Project, we build technologies that make it possible to take back the internet from these negative forces.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Tor Network

The Tor network is a group of thousands of volunteer-operated servers that allows people to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.

The Tor network works by routing your traffic through multiple servers and encrypting it each step of the way. When using the Tor network, who you are--and the sites you visit--are concealed from anybody spying on your connection. Any prying eyes only see that you are using Tor.

As a result, the Tor network allows organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy. The Tor network is also an effective censorship circumvention tool, allowing users to reach otherwise blocked destinations or content without compromising their safety.

Software developers can also use the Tor network as a building block to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. For example, the whistleblowing app SecureDrop routes its traffic through the Tor network. SecureDrop + the Tor network allows journalists to communicate securely with anonymous sources.

Population(s) Served

Tor Browser is an easy-to-use web browser built on top of a modified version of Firefox. Unlike most mainstream browsers, though, Tor Browser is designed to protect your privacy and anonymity first and foremost.

Tor Browser routes your traffic through the Tor network and has special modifications that prevent websites from "fingerprinting" or identifying you based on your browser configuration.

There are two main benefits of using Tor Browser:

1. Your internet service provider, and anyone watching your connection locally, will not be able to track your internet activity, including the names and addresses of the websites you visit.

2. The operators of the websites and services that you use, and anyone watching them, will see a connection coming from the Tor network instead of your real Internet (IP) address, and will not know who you are unless you explicitly identify yourself.

Tor Browser is a straightforward and easy way for anybody to use the Tor network. It's useful for anyone who wants to route around censorship or protect their identity while accessing the internet. Tor Browser is available for desktop (macOS, Windows, and Linux) and Android.

--

"For people who want to reduce their exposure as much as possible, Tor Browser is the gold standard for privacy." - Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Population(s) Served

Part of the Tor Project's mission is to further the popular understanding of privacy technologies, and we believe we can achieve it by combining educational efforts with usability efforts. Popular understanding is to not only be aware of such privacy technologies but to also be able to use and control them.

With that in mind, we decided to integrate user experience research into our digital security training with a single program. In this program, we connect with local communities on-the-ground to offer education and training on privacy technologies, collect feedback on Tor, and build a well-connected community.

We focus on visiting users in places where censorship and surveillance are pervasive and dangerous, and where Tor is the most needed. From 2017 to 2019, these activities reached an audience of 800 people through 71 activities in 22 cities and seven countries: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda.

More about this program: https://blog.torproject.org/reaching-people-where-they-are

Population(s) Served

Governments and other censors use a variety of tools to deny people access to the free and open internet. As a result, systems for getting around censorship, including Tor, must adopt a variety of measures as well.

Because the connection between Tor Browser and the guard relay is encrypted, parties observing a user’s internet connection (such as an ISP) cannot selectively block connections based on their content or destination. Some governments and ISPs have responded to this censorship evasion by attempting to prevent users from connecting to the Tor network in the first place.

One way to do this blocking is to prevent people from downloading the Tor Browser by blocking connections to the Tor Project website and its mirrors. We responded to this concern by launching the GetTor service, which allows users to make a request via email or twitter. The service responds with a link to a cloud storage site that the user can download Tor Browser from.
Another way to block access to the Tor network is to block connections to addresses published in the publicly available list of Tor relays. Tor bridges are Tor relays that are not in the public list, which makes blocking them more difficult.

More sophisticated censors use deep packet inspection (DPI) to recognize and block connec- tions. This method examines the data moving across the internet and tries to determine whether it’s Tor traffic. To counter this blocking, Tor uses pluggable transports. Pluggable transports disguise the traffic between the user and a Tor bridge so that it doesn’t look like Tor traffic.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

As of 12/12/2019, we have received 9,054 new donors - significant growth over past years.

Number of people on the organization's email list

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

As of December 2019, we have 154,225 subscribers.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We want everyone in the world to be able to enjoy privacy and freedom online.

We 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.

The Tor Project, Inc, became a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2006, but the idea of "onion routing" began in the mid 1990s. Many researchers, developers, and engineers involved with Tor today have been working on the issue of security online for decades. Our staff are known as experts in the field, and our tools are recognized as gold standards in privacy and security online.

Millions of people use the Tor network every day. Tor is well-known and widely researched. Our next steps are to ensure that all people who need Tor can use it--and that it will be fast, easy, and available. Our focus for the next two years is to make Tor more accessible to people all over the world. To do so, we must:

• Scale the Tor network to handle an increase in users. More and more people are interested in protecting their privacy online. For example, Mozilla is researching how to implement a Tor tab into Firefox. In order to offer a positive experience for 50 million+ users from Firefox, we must scale the network.

• Improve the Tor network and Tor Browser's user-perceptible performance metrics, particularly for users who have slow connections, old devices, and limited data.

• Improve onion services' usability and protections against DoS attacks, website fingerprinting, and guard discovery attacks.

• Promote and normalize onion services adoption and continue to debunk the myth of the 'dark web' by helping organizations set up onion services and SecureDrop instances. News orgs that adopt onion services will join the ranks of the BBC, the New York Times, ProPublica, and other publications that rely on Tor to offer censorship-resistant news and whistleblower protections.

• Expand the https://metrics.torproject.orgportal and measurement collection mechanisms to better monitor the health of the Tor network, thereby increasing our insight into issues that are causing performance problems.

• Monitor global censorship tactics and adapt our strategies to allow users to more effectively circumvent this censorship.

• Invest in post-quantum cryptography.

• Improve usability of Tor Browser for people of all technical skill levels.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

The Tor Project Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

The Tor Project Inc.

Board of directors
as of 12/12/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Matt Blaze

Professor and Robert L. McDevitt, K.S.G., K.C.H.S. and Catherine H. McDevitt L.C.H.S. Chair | Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

Matt Blaze

Georgetown University

Bruce Schneier

Cryptographer

Cindy Cohn

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Megan Price

Human Rights Data Analysis Group

Biella Coleman

McGill University

Nighat Dad

Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan

Julius Mittenzwei

Open Publishing

Ramy Raoof

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

Shari Steele

Tor Project and EFF, retired

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Not applicable
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Not applicable
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Not applicable
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/12/2019

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data