Law Enforcement

CMU denies working for the FBI in targeting Tor users

Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute released a statement on Nov. 18 vaguely denying Tor's claim that the FBI paid the institute $1 million to de-anonymize Tor users.

The statement took issue with "a number of inaccurate media reports in recent days" about the institute's work on cybersecurity.

"In the course of its work, the university from time to time is served with subpoenas requesting information about research it has performed," the statement reads. "The university abides by the rule of law, complies with lawfully issued subpoenas and receives no funding for its compliance."

SEI is a federally funded research and development center. Tor is free software that enables users to communicate anonymously online.

Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins University, and other computer scientists have criticized SEI's alleged work on the FBI operation as crossing the line of generally accepted collaboration between academia and government on computer security research.

An FBI spokesperson has denied Tor's accusation by saying the "allegation that we paid Carnegie Mellon $1 million to hack into Tor is inaccurate."

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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