Tor, the anonymous online network, is being targeted by the Russian Interior Ministry. A £65,000 prize is being offered for a technological solution that will allow police to track Tor users.
Tor anonymises users online so that they can browse without being traced. It does this by encrypting data and sending it through thousands of random pathways. While it is used by journalists, activists and by those in oppressive countries, it is also used for illegal activities.
In Russia Tor user numbers have jumped from 80,000 in May to 200,000 this month. Russia shelved an idea to ban all anonymisers in favour of finding a way to track users when they're breaking laws. The winner of the 3.9 million ruble prize will be announced on 20 August.
Tor does make it difficult to be tracked by not impossible. Presumably anyone who is committing crimes online will use more than just Tor to stay hidden, leaving those who use it for good at risk.
Sarkis Darbinyan, a lawyer for Russia’s Pirate Party, told the BBC: "Law enforcers are worried about the ability of internet users to anonymously visit the internet, and particularly blocked sites. Also, the new blogging law that comes into force in August says that all bloggers with a daily audience of over 3,000 must register their identity. But someone blogging through TOR can do so anonymously."
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