The Tor Project, the not-for-profit organization behind the anonymizing network that lets anyone browse the Internet without being tracked, has announced that it’s closing its Tor Cloud service that allowed people to donate bandwidth capacity.
Tor, a contraction of “The Onion Router,” is downloadable software that directs traffic through a volunteer-run network of relays. It’s often used by activists or those living under strict government regimes. Mainstream companies and media outlets are also turning to the technology — last year, Facebook revealed it was switching on anonymous access to the social network via Tor as part of an experiment. Newspapers are also embracing Tor to help protect whistleblowers.
Launched back in 2011, Tor Cloud effectively enabled people to build “bridges” from Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), creating a faster and (theoretically) more secure browsing experience through the Tor network. Tor developers had called on people to sign-up to EC2 in order to donate bandwidth capacity to the network.
As of today, Tor Cloud is no more. A blog post outlining the reason read:
Software requires maintenance, and Tor Cloud is no exception. There is at least one major bug in the Tor Cloud image that makes it completely dysfunctional (meaning that users could not use this particular service to access the Internet), and there are over a dozen other bugs, at least one of them of highest priority.
As a result of these bugs, Tor said that it has seen a gradual decline in the uptake of Tor Cloud since early 2014. Efforts to remedy the situation have proved futile too, with no “Tor person” available to review and approve patches that were offered from the community. However, while Tor Cloud may be no more, Tor is hoping others will develop other cloud-based bridges.
“We encourage everyone who stepped up to start their own cloud bridges project under another name (‘Onion Cloud’?), possibly forking the existing Tor Cloud code that will remain available. Tor Cloud is still a good idea, it just needs somebody to implement it,” the post said.