TOR is a piece of software that was developed by the US Navy and then got support for further improvements and distribution by the Electronic Frontier, Google and the State Department. (Here is a short video explanation at MIT.)
The value of TOR is that its encrypts data that allows human rights activists and journalists to get around the censorship and monitoring of dictatorships. It is such a robust piece of encryption software that even the NSA has been unable to crack it.
IFEX interviewed Andrew Lewman, Executive Director of the TOR Project.