Tor, an anonymous web browser, has revealed that it is now accepting several different altcoins as donation methods. Users can now donate nine different cryptocurrencies to the project, including three privacy coins: Monero, Zcash, and Dash. Sarah Stevenson, Tor’s Fundraising Director, announced the news on Twitter:
— Sarah Stevenson (@elkakai) March 18, 2019
Privacy coins, which provide confidential transactions, pair nicely with Tor’s anonymous browsing features. However, the Tor Project itself doesn’t actually need to accept anonymous donations—it accepts credit cards and PayPal as well. It seems that the project is simply accepting Monero and other coins by choice, not out of necessity.
No More BitPay
The newly-added altcoins are only part of the story. Tor’s website indicates that it is now using proper crypto wallets and addresses to receive donations. Previously, Tor accepted Bitcoin donations through BitPay, a centralized payment processor that is used by many other projects including the Wikimedia Foundation.
BitPay basically streamlines the process of receiving crypto donations and converting them to fiat. However, BitPay could also conceivably deny its services to Tor, which is controversial due to the role that it plays in the dark web. That said, Tor doesn’t seem to be at risk of being cut off, and Stevenson says that BitPay will be phased out based on whether donors use the service.
Tor and Cryptocurrency
Tor’s relationship with crypto goes deeper than donations. The software can actually be used alongside Bitcoin. In a past blog post, Tor has noted that its software can be used to enhance the privacy of Bitcoin transactions. Furthermore, Bitcoin has actually built Tor into its node software. Both of these facts mean that Bitcoin users can obscure their IP addresses.
Other coins, such as Verge and Zcash, also use Tor in some way. Additionally, many cryptocurrency services, such as coin mixers, can often be accessed via a Tor onion address for maximum privacy. Tor even goes so far as to suggest that cryptocurrencies could not claim to be private if its own software did not exist.
But even though one’s crypocurrency of choice may be using Tor as an integral (or optional) component, many users will never notice Tor’s presence. By accepting crypto donations, Tor has made it clear which side of the crypto debate it is on. This week’s news demonstrates that the Tor Project is sympathetic to cryptocurrency in a relatively visible way.
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