UPDATED 19:43 EDT / APRIL 19 2020

POLICY

COVID-19 forces Tor Project to lay off a third of its staff

The Tor Project, a nonprofit organization that develops and maintains the privacy-focused Tor browser, is laying off a third of its staff as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement came Friday via a blog post from Executive Director Isabela Bagueros, who said the group was letting go of 13 staff members and would “move forward” with a core team of just 22 people.

“Tor, like much of the world, has been caught up in the COVID-19 crisis,” Bagueros wrote. “Like many other nonprofits and small businesses, the crisis has hit us hard, and we have had to make some difficult decisions. We had to let go of 13 great people who helped make Tor available to millions of people around the world.”

Bagueros reassured Tor users that in spite of the layoffs, the existing team would be able to maintain its servers and software, including the Tor Browser Bundle and the Tor anonymity network.

The Tor Project survives entirely on donations, so the layoffs aren’t such a surprise given that many small businesses have already been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Most of its donors are either users or come the private sector, and many of them are struggling themselves, hence the Project’s funds appear to have dried up.

Indeed, many larger firms have also been forced to lay off or furlough staff themselves in recent weeks, including Tesla Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc. The Gap Inc., Macy’s Inc., Yelp Inc. and Vox Media Inc.

Image: The Tor Project

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