Can't Run a Relay? Here Are Some Other Ways You Can Support the Tor Challenge

Kevin Gallagher

Today we’re helping to launch the Tor Challenge, a clarion call for people all over the world to support the Tor network in the most crucial way possible: by running relays. Relays are the fundamental building blocks of Tor; they are the nodes through which your connection is routed as it gets anonymized. The more relays that are available, the faster, more robust and secure the whole network becomes — and those who rely upon Tor to circumvent censorship or protect their privacy benefit enormously.

Yet, for various reasons, not everybody can run a relay, so we’re going to suggest a few other ways that you can support Tor.

To begin with, one can donate to the Tor Project through our website, as part of our Encryption Tools for Journalists donation bundle that's been active since December. This is one of the best steps you can take to safeguard online anonymity.

If you lack the hardware to run a relay but have some financial resources to offer, you could sponsor a Tor node through NoiseTor or TorServers.net.

If you're technically savvy, you should think about hosting a CryptoParty locally to teach others about Tor, or simply introduce your family and friends to the Tor Browser Bundle and the Tails operating system. This is what Edward Snowden did only weeks before he contacted Glenn Greenwald—and he also ran at least three Tor exit nodes.

One can host a mirror of the Tor Project website like we do, so that people can access it in parts of the world where it is blocked, and you might also consider making your website available as a Tor hidden service, as we have done.

If you are a student, urge your school to start running a relay. Check out this detailed resource guide for running a Tor node on a college campus. You could also persuade your employer to run one. There are other types of relays which don’t function as “exits” that might be more appropriate for your situation—these are called middle relays or bridge nodes. If you have concerns about doing any of these things, consult this legal FAQ for relay operators.

Media and news organizations, especially those already running SecureDrop, have strong incentives to add a Tor relay to their existing IT infrastructure. Not only would they be contributing to the project which most allows true privacy to thrive on the Internet and lets reporters research subjects anonymously, but they’d be giving back by strengthening a network that affords significant protection to potential whistleblowers who may have information that can result in truly ground-breaking stories which are a boon to those very outlets. Running an exit relay is a great investment for such organizations—yet they can easily run bridge relays, too.

It’s also helpful to use Tor. Too often, people mistake using technology to protect your privacy as an indication that you have something to hide. But the truth is, everyday people have a range of reasons they may want to protect what they're looking at on the internet. Download the Tor Browser Bundle and start browsing the Web using Tor today, and help promote privacy by default.