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Tor Network Removes Risky Relays Associated With Cryptocurrency Scheme

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The Tor Project announced on Monday that it has removed many relays due to the high risk they posed to the network’s integrity and users.

A blog post published by the anonymity network’s maintainers reveals that directory authorities have voted in favor of removing the relays associated with a for-profit scheme that involves the payment of cryptocurrency tokens.  

“We consider these relays to be harmful to the Tor network for a number of reasons, including that certain of the relays do not meet our requirements, and that such financial schemes present a significant threat to the network’s integrity and the reputation of our project as they can attract individuals with malicious intent, put users at risk, or disrupt the volunteer-driven spirit that sustains the Tor Community,” the Tor Project explained. 

It added, “As part of our assessment and due diligence into the matter, we engaged with relay operators and were often presented with scenarios in which relay operators associated with this scheme were putting themselves at risk by lacking the awareness of what project they were actually contributing to or operating relays in unsafe or high-risk regions. It has become clear to us that this scheme is not beneficial to the Tor network or the Tor Project.”

While the cryptocurrency project in question has not been named, it seems to be ATOR, which claims its goal is to enhance the Tor network through rewards paid in the ATOR cryptocurrency to relay operators.  

The value of ATOR plummeted on Monday after the Tor Project made its announcement, dropping to below $1 after reaching an all-time high of $2 just days before the relays were removed. Over 1,000 nodes have been reportedly shut down.

Following the Tor Project’s decision, ATOR maintainers said they plan to develop their own decentralized peer-to-peer routing network. 

The Tor Project last week published a financial report for the period between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, revealing that it had a total of nearly $7 million in revenue and support.

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The US government continues to account for the largest chunk of revenue, contributing with more than 50% of the total ($3.2 million), followed by individual donations ($1.7 million), and governments other than the US ($450,000).  

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