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Putin Sets $110,000 Bounty for Cracking Tor as Anonymous Internet Usage in Russia Surges

American National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to European officials via videoconference during a parliamentary hearing on mass surveillance at the European Council in Strasbourg, France, on April 8, 2014. Photographer: Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images
American National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to European officials via videoconference during a parliamentary hearing on mass surveillance at the European Council in Strasbourg, France, on April 8, 2014. Photographer: Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images

From time to time, Edward Snowden's face pops up on video-chat monitors stationed at technology conferences. Broadcasting from Russia where he's taken asylum, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor frequently evangelizes for use of the Internet anonymity tool Tor.

Snowden's affinity for Tor, an acronym for "the onion router," is not shared by the government ruling his adopted country. Russia's Interior Ministry is offering a contract worth 3.9 million rubles ($110,000) "to study the possibility of obtaining technical information on users and users' equipment of Tor anonymous network," according to an announcement posted last week on the government's website for state purchases.