Tor 'dark web' router head implicates GCHQ and NSA in bug-fixing scandal

Tor operations head Andrew Lewman

The director of ‘dark web’ anonymity router ‘Tor’ has claimed that its programmers receive sophisticated bug reports from agents within the NSA and GCHQ, in order to keep the service functioning.

Andrew Lewman, head of Tor’s operations, alleged that supposedly rogue elements of the UK and US government agencies were tipping the company off to programming flaws, to keep the utility, which allows users to anonymously access hidden sites, functioning.

Lewman told the BBC: “There are plenty of people in both organisations who can anonymously leak data to us to say - maybe you should look here, maybe you should look at this to fix this.

"You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source code from scratch for hours, for weeks, for months, and find and elucidate these super-subtle bugs or other things that they probably don't get to see in most commercial software.

"And the fact that we take a completely anonymous bug report allows them to report to us safely."

Lewman added; "It's sort of funny because it also came out that GCHQ heavily relies on Tor working to be able to do a lot of their operations.

"So you can imagine one part of GCHQ is trying to break Tor, the other part is trying to make sure it's not broken because they're relying on it to do their work."

Both GCHQ and the NSA have refused to comment on the matter.

Tor has been downloaded 50 million times in the past year and sees 2.5 million users daily.

This comes after 'the onion router' was earlier this summer threatened by a bug which could have led to the identification of users.

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