How You Funded Some of the World's Greatest Technologies, Including Fruit Ninja

By Jordan Robertson - 2014-04-01T16:13:22Z

Photograph by Getty Images

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Tor

When it comes to online security, the U.S. government is playing both sides of the cyber coin. On one end, as the NSA spying scandal has demonstrated, it wants the ability to conduct mass surveillance. On the other, it seeks an effective way to defeat online snooping, as shown by the government's early investment in "onion routing," the advanced technology for anonymizing traffic. 

Tor, which stands for The Onion Router, is a DARPA-funded project that is the tool of choice for dissidents, hackers and ordinary citizens worried about privacy. "Onion" refers to the tool's ability to conceal online activities, similar to how the layers of the vegetable shroud its core. 

Tor is likely the technology former NSA contractor Edward Snowden used to cover his tracks.

Related: Innovation Myths and the Unsexy Truths About Breakthroughs

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