The Tor Project: building decentralized privacy infrastructure & tools

Recent accomplishments

I’m very excited to share our updates from the last Epoch. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot with your support!

Launched election internet freedom monitoring project

This year, with more than 65 elections happening around the world, Internet freedom may be at risk. Some organizations have called it the Year of Democracy. Simultaneously, there is a rising concern that during these many electoral processes, governments in certain parts of the world will block access to the Internet in their countries. Governments may also censor media outlets, persecute and harass journalists, and block social media platforms and messaging apps.

In this context, the Tor Project has developed a project to monitor global elections, detect Internet censorship taking place during these elections, support Internet users so they can bypass this censorship by using Tor, and document these incidents.

So far, we’ve monitored elections in Pakistan, Belarus, and this weekend are monitoring the internet during elections in Russia.

  • Belarus: No internet censorship detected during the election

  • Pakistan: Site blocking, full internet outages, and blocking of VPNs detected

  • Russia: Happening now, March 15-17

→ Read more about defending internet freedom in 2024

Introduced Webtunnel, a new type of censorship circumvention mechanism

The Tor Project’s Anti-Censorship Team has officially announced the release of WebTunnel, a new type of Tor bridge designed to assist users in heavily censored regions to connect to the Tor network.

The development of different types of bridges are crucial for making Tor more resilient against censorship and stay ahead of adversaries in the highly dynamic and ever-changing censorship landscape. This is especially true as we’re going through the 2024 global election megacycle.

WebTunnel is a censorship-resistant pluggable transport designed to mimic encrypted web traffic (HTTPS) inspired by HTTPT. It works by wrapping the payload connection into a WebSocket-like HTTPS connection, appearing to network observers as an ordinary HTTPS (WebSocket) connection. So, for an onlooker without the knowledge of the hidden path, it just looks like a regular HTTP connection to a webpage server giving the impression that the user is simply browsing the web.

→ Read more about how Webtunnel empowers censorship circumvention

Launched Tor Postbox, a testimony hub featuring stories from Tor users worldwide!

Tor Postbox is a collection of anonymous user stories submitted by people who rely on Tor to protect their privacy and anonymity. We designed this resource to support individuals and organizations who are advocating to defend encryption and privacy-enhancing technology, as well as to better demonstrate Tor’s impact.

We encourage you to share their experiences with your network, friends and family, or as part of your work to promote the use of privacy-preserving technologies like Tor and help us defend strong online protections.

Here’s one example of the stories on the Postbox hub:

Encryption is privacy, as simple as that. Privacy should be the default, giving away information should be the exception. We should never wonder “do I have something to hide, do I have a reason to not give this information?” This way of thinking is extremely unhealthy. The only real question we should ask ourselves is “do I have a good reason to share this personal information?”

You can watch the Tor Postbox launch event, here:, in this video you will hear from digital rights advocates, journalists and other online privacy experts as they share insights on outreach, advocacy, challenges in 2024, and their vision for the future of digital rights.

Launch event features:

  • Cecilia Maundu, OSS Community Mobilizer & Sustainability Coordinator, Internews

  • Mahsa Alimardani, Internet Researcher, ARTICLE19

  • Donncha Ó Cearbhaill, Head of Security Lab, Amnesty Tech

  • Andrew Fishman, Investigative Journalist, The Intercept Brasil

  • Pavel Zoneff, Director of Communications, Tor Project (moderator)

Recent releases

  • Tor Browser 13.0.11 (March 6): This is an emergency release which updates our the domain fronting configuration for the Snowflake pluggable transport and the moat connection to the rdsys backend used by the censorship circumvention system.

  • Arti 1.2.0 (March 4): With this release of Arti, trying out onion services should be a smoother experience. We have fixed a number of bugs and security issues, and have made the onion-service-service feature non-experimental.

  • Tor Browser 13.0.10 (Feb 20): This release updates Firefox to 115.8.0esr, OpenSSL to 3.0.13, zlib to 1.3.1, and Snowflake to 2.9.0. It also includes various bug fixes.

  • Arti 1.1.13 (Feb 5): This release fixed some important bugs. We’ve also been doing a lot of work on storage of persistent state, and cryptographic keys, to support proper expiry of obsolete keys, and deletion of state for no-longer-required onion services.

  • Tor Browser 13.0.9 (Jan 22): This release updates Firefox to 115.7.0esr and Snowflake to 2.8.1. It also includes various bug fixes.

  • Arti 1.1.12 (Jan 9): With this release, it’s finally possible to run onion services for testing and experimentation. There are a lot of rough edges and missing security features, so we don’t (yet) recommend Arti onion services for production use, or for any purpose that requires privacy.

Impact of funding from Octant Epoch 2

Very few of our projects are 100% funded by grants. That means we need unrestricted funding to be flexible in the face of censorship, to bridge funding gaps, and to make sure the organization remains steady.

:partying_face: In particular, Octant allocations have helped make possible our work to monitor and respond to internet censorship during elections—which is currently not funded by any grant. :tada:

Upcoming goals

These goals published during the Epoch 1 update remain relevant.

  • In the next several months, likely Q1 and Q2 of 2024, we anticipate wrapping up the second phase of the Arti client’s development, which was funded by Zcash Community Grants (here’s a recent update on that progress). ZCG will have supported us taking a huge step to modernize Tor, and when were are done with this phase, our funding from Zcash Community Grants will be over. From there, we’ll move our entire Network team over to writing Arti and begin development of relay implementations in Arti. We’re getting closer and closer to Arti replacing the C implementation and your support is helping us get there. → This Epoch, we completed our first milestone!

  • We’re getting closer to our goal of sharing a beta testing version of the upcoming Tor VPN application! Stay tuned.

  • We’re rebuilding our page. This has been a pain point for a long time, and we look forward to making it easier to support the Tor Project. → We’ve made a lot of progress this Epoch and can’t wait for it to be live!

  • We continue working on trainings and user research in the global south. We just launched the Privacy Resilience Grants call for proposals. Through this program, we aim to support organizations in MENA and East Africa that will work with their local communitys on Tor and digital security. These grants will also allow folks to run user research about Tor tools to help us improve the usability for their communities.

  • We started the process of deprecating Tor’s old bridge distribution system and plan to have everything moved to the new system by Q2 of 2024. → Our first milestones were completed during this Epoch, and we’re making great progress!

  • We have been working on improving censorship circumvention methods in China, Tibet, and Hong Kong. In the next several months we are also going to be focusing on responding to censorship events in Turkmenistan. → See the Webtunnel release above!

  • In the last year we have been talking directly with Tor relay operators to improve agreements in the community as well as ways to be sure the network remains healthy, and we will be continuing that effort in 2024.

Other funding

Individual donations

During Epoch 1, the Tor Project our year-end fundraising campaign. This is when we raise the most money from individual donors each year and is important time for us to reach our budget goals. You can read a analysis of this campaign and how we will spend the money raised during this time on our blog.


  • No new awarded grants this period
  • Many grants in the pipeline for applications
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