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The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) recently floated a tender inviting bids for help with “obtaining technical information” about users of Tor, the increasingly popular anonymizing network. Bidding ends on August 13, 2014 and the ministry hopes to announce the winner of the 3.9 million ruble contract ($111,000) a week later on August 20.
The MVD is but the latest government entity around the world to have shown such keen interest in denying users of this global network of over 5,000 volunteer hosted relay servers the anonymity they currently enjoy. Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden suggest that the National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have at times been able to target Tor with some degree of success, although it’s believed that they mostly rely on indirect methods of attack, having failed to compromise the Tor network itself.
The tender notice, which was posted on the government’s official procurement portal on July 11, makes it clear that only citizens of the mighty Russian Federation are eligible for the contract.
Interestingly, the FSB, Russia’s premier intelligence agency, tried convincing the country’s lawmakers to outlaw anonymizing software like Tor but eventually nothing came of the effort.
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