Tor Summer of Privacy 2015 -- Applications Due April 17th!

The Tor Project, in collaboration with The Electronic Frontier Foundation, has taken part in Google Summer of Code for 2007 through 2014, mentoring a total of 53 students. This year the program was trimmed back and room was needed for new organizations.

So we decided to launch our first Tor Summer of Privacy! This is a pilot program we hope will grow and guarantee support for students who want to collaborate with privacy tools. Many thanks to all the individual donors who are sponsoring this program!

Working on Tor is rewarding because:

  • You will work with a world-class team of anonymity experts and developers on an anonymity network that is already protecting millions of people daily.
  • We only write free (open source) software. The tools you make won't be locked down or rot on a shelf.
  • The work you do could contribute to academic publications — Tor development raises many open questions and interesting problems in the field of anonymity systems
  • You can work your own hours in your own locations. As long as you get the job done, we don't care about the process.
  • We are friendly and collaborative.

We will be sponsoring 3 students this summer.


  • Announce, outreach (April 3)
  • Accept applications (April 3-10)
  • Accept more applications; communicate with student applicants (April 10-17, applications close at end-of-day everywhere)
  • Reach decisions about which students (April 20)
  • Community bonding period begins (April 21)
  • [End of spring term] (Mid May)
  • Students begin officially working on projects (May 25)
  • Midterm evaluation (3 July)
  • Pencils down date (Aug 25)
  • End-of-term evaluation (Sep 1)

The application deadline for students is April 17th (end-of-day everywhere). NO LATE APPLICATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED. We're sorry about needing to be strict on this, but we have a really tight deadline for making selection decisions. Late applications make the process harder, so the only fair thing is to not allow any exceptions.


For the 'legal' part - to keep it simple, if you classify for GSoC agreement (i.e. age > 18, not resident of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria etc) you should be good to go for our Summer of Privacy! We invite and welcome many kinds of students from many kinds of backgrounds to apply.

Beyond that you also should be self-motivated and able to work independently. We have a thriving community of interested developers on the IRC channel and mailing lists, and we're eager to work with you, brainstorm about design, and so on, but you need to be able to manage your own time, and you need to already be somewhat familiar with how free software development on the Internet works.

We invite and welcome applications from many different kinds of students who come from many different backgrounds. Don't be shy--apply!


The best way to get involved is to come listen on IRC (both "#tor" and "#tor-dev"), read our docs and other webpages, try out the various tools that are related to the projects that interest you, and ask questions as they come to you: Getting up to speed. If you a good coder but not familiar with IRC, send a note to tor-assistants@… and we'll talk you through it.

In addition to getting some more development work done on Tor and related applications, we are most interested in getting students involved in Tor development in a way that keeps them involved after the summer too. That means we will give priority to students who have demonstrated continued interest and responsiveness. We will require students to write public status report updates for our community, either by blogging or sending mail to our mailing list. We want to ensure that the community and the student can both benefit from each other.

When it comes time for us to choose projects, our impression of how well you'll fit into our community (friendliness, good at working in teams, etc.) — and how well you are at taking the initiative to do things — will be at least as important as the actual project you'll be working on.


To start with, please see Tor's projects page and its following ideas.

The best kind of ideas are well defined and easily broken into subtasks. Students sometimes try to bite off open-ended development and research topics. But if you're going to spend the first half of your summer figuring out what exactly you should code, there's a chance that the conclusion will be "oh, that isn't actually feasible to build after all" and your proposal will make us very nervous.

Try to figure out how much you can actually fit in a summer, break the work down into manageable pieces, and most importantly, figure out how to make sure your incremental milestones are actually useful — if you don't finish everything in your plan, we want to know that you'll still have produced something useful.

Payment flow

Tor will provide a total stipend of USD $5,500 per accepted student developer.

  • Accepted students in good standing with their mentor will receive a USD $500 stipend shortly after coding begins.
  • Students who receive passing mid-term evaluations will receive a USD $2,500 stipend shortly after the mid-term evaluation deadline.
  • Students who receive passing final evaluations and who have submitted their final program evaluations will receive a USD $2,500 stipend shortly after the final evaluation deadline.


Please use the following template for your application to make sure you provide enough information for us to evaluate you and your proposal.

  • Point us to a code sample: something good and clean to demonstrate that you know what you're doing--ideally from an existing project.
  • What project would you like to work on? Use our ideas lists as a starting point or make up your own idea. Your proposal should include high-level descriptions of what you're going to do, with more details about the parts you expect to be tricky. Your proposal should also try to break down the project into tasks of a fairly fine granularity, and convince us you have a plan for finishing it. A timeline for what you will be doing throughout the summer is highly recommended.

Note that we might share which project ideas have strong applications in order to spread applicants out (it's bad for everyone for several strong applicants to be for the exact same project).

  • Why do you want to work with The Tor Project in particular? Tell us about your experiences in free software development environments. We especially want to hear examples of how you have collaborated with others rather than just working on a project by yourself.
  • Will you be working full-time on the project for the summer, or will you have other commitments too (a second job, classes, etc)? If you won't be available full-time, please explain, and list timing if you know it for other major deadlines (e.g. exams). Having other activities isn't a deal-breaker, but we don't want to be surprised.
  • Will your project need more work and/or maintenance after the summer ends? What are the chances you will stick around and help out with that and other related projects?
  • What is your ideal approach to keeping everybody informed of your progress, problems, and questions over the course of the project? Said another way, how much of a "manager" will you need your mentor to be?
  • What school are you attending? What year are you, and what's your major/degree/focus? If you're part of a research group, which one?
  • How can we contact you to ask you further questions? You can send emails to tor-assistants@…. In addition, what's your IRC nickname? Interacting with us on IRC will help us get to know you, and help you get to know our community.
  • Is there anything else that we should know that will make us like your project more?
  • Let us know how you heard about Tor Summer of Privacy (Twitter, from your school newspaper, through a friend?).
  • Please send your completed application to tor-assistants@… with the subject line: Summer of Privacy Application (Your Name).

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: We are accepting applications now through April 17th, 2015 (Soon!).

If you're interested and have questions, prior to submitting your application you can either contact tor-assistants@… (a private list) with a brief summary of your proposal and we'll give you feedback, or just jump right in and post your ideas and goals to the tor-dev mailing list (which is open). Make sure to be responsive during the application selection period; if we like your application but you never answer our mails asking for more information, that's not a good sign.

We mostly pick mentors from the core Tor development team so we should be able to accommodate a wide variety of projects. These can range from work on Tor itself to work on supporting or peripheral projects.

All selected projects are assigned both a primary and assistant mentor to answer your questions and help you integrate with the broader Tor community. Though your mentors are a primary point of contact, Tor Summer of Privacy students will use our public spaces (the #tor-dev irc channel and tor-dev@ email list) to discuss their projects. We want you to become a part of the community by the end of the summer, not a stranger who is only known by your mentor.

We're always happy to have new contributors so if you haven't filled up your summer plans yet, please consider spending some time working with us to make Tor better!

If you want to look at examples of applications, you can check our old GSoC page.

Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on Aug 17, 2018, 12:46:53 AM