The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) is offering a 3.9 million ruble (approximately $110,000) bounty for technology that can identify the users of the anonymous browsing network Tor.
On July 11, the interior ministry's special technology and communications group published a tender (English translated) on the government procurement website under the title “Perform research, code ‘TOR’ (Navy)”, announcing that the MVD is seeking proposals for researchers to ”study the possibility of obtaining technical information about users and users equipment on the Tor anonymous network”. However, the listing was updated last week to remove the public description of the project.
The contest, which requires entrants to pay a 195,000 ruble (approximately $5,555) application fee, is open only to Russian citizens and companies. Proposals are due August 13, and a winner will be announced by August 20.
Originally set up by the US Naval Research Laboratory, Tor is often used by whistleblowers, journalists, and others who want to send information over the internet without being tracked. It is also been known to be used for criminal activity.
According to the Guardian, Russia has the fifth-largest number of Tor users with more than 210,000 people making use of it.
The news comes a couple of months after the Russian government passed a new Bloggers Law that requires popular online voices (with an audience of over 3,000 readers) to register their identity with the Roskomnadzor, Russia's media oversight agency. The law, which goes into effect in August, covers not only traditional blogs but microblogs as well as social networks.
Earlier this month, Russia's lower house of parliament passed a law requiring major internet companies to store personal data locally.