In 2013, Tor received more than $1.8 million from the US government, about 75 percent of the $2.4 million in total annual expenses, according to their latest publicly available tax returns.
While Tor is grateful for the cash, it is worried that conspiracy theorists claim that the US spooks have the system wired up to be a honeypot.
The premise is that while Tor is meant to keep you anonymous on the Internet but it’s funded in large part by the US government who does not want you to be anonymous. So it must be a way that the government locates those who want to be anonymous and tracks them down.
Technically this is tricky, but it is probably better for Tor if it was free of a government involvement – particularly when that government has been seen as a big fan of snooping.
Developers recently discussed the push to diversify funding at Tor’s biannual meeting in Spain, including setting a goal of 50 percent non-U.S. government funding by 2016.
Tor developers at the meeting also brought up the possibility of lobbying foreign governments within, for instance, the European Union.
However, increasing non-governmental funding is a major priority. Individual donations rose significantly in the last year and Tor plans on soliciting them much more aggressively in 2015. Every new download of Tor—there were 120 million in 2014—will be asked to donate to the project, a change expected to take place in the near future.
Tor is launching a crowdfunding campaign in May of this year.