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Tor Onion Services

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The Tor Project will improve onion services, one of the few censorship circumvention technologies that allow users to route around censorship while simultaneously protecting their privacy and identity.

Tor onion services are one of the few censorship circumvention technologies that allows users to route around censorship while simultaneously protecting their privacy and identity. Most censorship circumvention don’t protect metadata, which can be used to target users in repressive contexts, whether by building behavioral maps of user networks or simply identifying and targets individuals who attempt to circumvent state censorship. For example, in some countries simple use of a circumvention tool is considered illegal behavior that is subject to harassment, fines, arrest, and detention. Protecting a user’s metadata helps to mitigate these risks; Tor’s onion services do just that.

Onion services are a tool that website administrators can adopt in order to offer an anonymous, metadata-free location for users to visit. An onion service version of a site protects the user and the administrator from exposure. Onion services are already used by many important global publications and projects relied upon people in repressive countries to route around censorship safely.

Through this project, Tor will work on two main objectives: one focused on improving onion services for website administrators, and the other on improving the user experience of onion services. Specifically, on the development side, this project will enable onion services to become more stable, scalable, and resistant to attacks, allowing more organizations to adopt and deploy their own onion service. On the UX side, this project will seek to make use of onion services a more seamless experience by improving how users find, interact, and engage with onion service sites.

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Current project status

Just an idea (Pre-alpha)
It exists! (Alpha/Beta)
It's basically done (Release)
People use it (Production)

Funding to date

2019 $499,510 12 months
Internet Freedom Fund

Total Funding: $499,510

Addressed problems

  • Restrictive Internet filtering by technical methods (IP blocking, DNS filtering, TCP RST, DPI, etc.)
  • Blocking, filtering, or modification of political, social, and/or religious content (including apps)
  • Technical attacks against government critics, journalists, and/or human rights organizations (Cyberattacks)
  • Localized or nationwide communications shut down or throttling (Blackouts)
  • Physical intimidation, arrest, violence (including device seizure or destruction), and death for political or social reasons
  • Repressive surveillance or monitoring of communication

Focus

  • Access to the Internet
  • Privacy enhancement
  • Security from danger or threat online

Objective(s)

  • Software or hardware development

Beneficiaries

  • General public
  • Women
  • Youth
  • Sexual minorities
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Activists
  • Journalists
  • Advocacy groups/NGOs
  • Academia
  • Technologists
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Government
  • Other

Region(s)

  • Global

Project status

  • People Use It. (Production)

Technology attributes

  • Anonymity
  • Application deployment
  • Desktop App
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  • Sensitive data
  • User interface/experience
  • Web application