The recent ETH Denver 2023 crypto conference was the most successful in its six-year history, turning a profit for the first time.
One of the interesting things about the conference is the fact that a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) called SporkDAO LCA is the entity that put together the affair.
The DAO will distribute some profits from the event, estimated at between 500 thousand and one million, back to DAO members, though how much is still unsettled, according to Coindesk.com. (“ETHDenver 2023 Ran a Profit. Will Members of Its DAO Get Some of the Returns?” 6 Mar 2023.)
ETH Denver gave hundreds of crypto projects a chance to showcase themselves.
For privacy advocates and crypto enthusiasts, perhaps one of the most interesting projects at the event was ATOR.
The goal of the project is to take the proven TOR decentralized privacy and anonymity protocol, and add feature and crypto innovations to grow its use into more widespread and mainstream adoption.
What is Tor?
The open source Tor project (https://www.torproject.org) allows anonymous internet communication and interaction. The project has produced a number apps, including:
- Torify, a command-line tool that can be used to route all of your network traffic through the Tor network.
- OnionShare, a tool that can be used to share files anonymously.
- TorChat, an instant messaging client that can be used to communicate anonymously.
- Vidalia, a configuration tool for Tor.
- Tor Web Browser
Tor apps and the internet traffic they facilitate are empowered by decentralized nodes run by computers over a free, global, volunteer overlay network of approximately 7,000 relays.
Tor provides privacy for Internet activities.
The Tor browser has gained use as a privacy alternative for internet browsing. Based on Mozilla’s open source Firefox browser, the pre-configured Firefox in the Tor Browser Bundle sends all traffic over Tor. This hides user internet history and allows for anonymous browsing. A good discussion on Tor Browser was recently part of a Watchman Privacy podcast episode available on YouTube, “Crowd-Sourced Digital Privacy: PrivacyGuides.org.”
Tor encrypts and redirects a computer’s internet traffic. Each relay decrypts one layer of encryption and sends communications to the next. This continues till traffic arrives. Traffic origin and destination are unknown to the final and initial relays. This makes internet tracking harder.
Critics contend Tor is used for criminal activities, including illegal file sharing, and access to illegal content etc. Tor can provide access to dark web resources that aren’t indexed by search engines like Google and Bing.
But advocates point out Tor is also used to exercise fundamental human political rights and freedoms in areas where repressive and intrusive governments and other actors, such as manipulating, surveilling corporations, act with far more consequential and pervasive criminality.
How ATOR Wants to Take Tor to the Next Level
The ATOR project, which created some buzz at ETH Denver 2023, seeks to integrate crypto innovations with Tor.
Regarding its vision, the project says:
“ATOR proposes a novel recognition mechanism for Tor relays, facilitated by the blockchain and the ATOR currency, to recognize contributors to Tor in an anonymized and equitable way. Our aim is to build up Tor, through incentives for existing relays and an influx of new relays powered by our hardware, to the scale and resilience needed for mainstream adoption.”
Core components of ATOR are a hardware router that can be used to implement a version of the Tor onion routing software, and an erc2 ethereum based token called ATOR.
The ATOR router is being designed to receive cryptocurrency rewards “in accordance with their cumulative useful uptime, through a Proof-of-Uptime mechanism.”
The project seeks to make implementing crypto incentivised Tor nodes a matter of “plug and play.”
The project notes:
“[T]he ATOR Relay, our own version of the Tor relay, [is] designed for Tor routing and immediately interoperable with our ATOR Proof-of-Uptime framework, allowing non-technical users to ‘mine’ ATOR and contribute to web anonymity through Tor.”
The project also envisions features like an ATOR Router Hotspot, a handheld device that will enable users to connect their consumer devices, via WiFi, while routing all their web traffic through Tor, without technical fiddling with scripts, etc.
Tokenomics and Recent News
As far as tokenomics, the ATOR token is capped at 100 million. The ATOR token has been outperforming many other small cap cryptos over the past three months. It was trading at 3 cents in early March, and recently has reached highs of 19 cents.
The MEXC crypto exchange announced this past week that it was listing the ATOR token, which may provide a further boost.
If the community behind ATOR proves as dedicated as the one behind Tor, then positives for internet and Web3 privacy may indeed see useful innovation via the synergies of decentralized privacy software and crypto technology.
[Note: As always, be advised that nothing in this article or The Trends Journal should be construed as investment advice.]
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