The world’s most resilient Torrent search engine, and arguable, the most censored website – The Pirate Bay – has just completed 10 years of existence, and to celebrate its surprisingly long life, the website has released an anti-censorship browser. Called Pirate Browser, this is a custom-made version of Firefox Portable with a Tor client and a Proxy add-on bundled together. The idea behind the release is to create a readily available web browser for people whose government and ISPs have blocked them from accessing certain websites, and at the same time protect their privacy from snoopy organizations, governments and adverting agencies alike.
PirateBrowser is based on the portable edition of the latest version Firefox 23 bundled with a Tor client (Vidalia) and some proxy configurations “that allows you to circumvent censorship that certain countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland impose onto their citizens.”
Tor, for those who are not aware, is worldwide proxy network run by volunteers that conceal a user’s location by routing Internet traffic through several Tor relays or proxies. The original data, including its destination, are encrypted and re-encrypted multiple times, and sent through a virtual circuit comprising successive, randomly selected Tor relays. Each relay knows only its immediate relays and not the original sender or the final destination. This method makes it extremely difficult to trace Internet activity back to the user and thus protect users’ personal privacy and freedom.
“While it uses Tor network, which is designed for anonymous surfing, this browser is intended just to circumvent censorship — to remove limits on accessing websites your government doesn’t want you to know about,” said The Pirate Bay.
It is necessary to understand that the browser will only connect to the Tor network when users try to open Torrent websites and other sites that are proactively blocked by ISPs across the world. For regular websites, PirateBrowser won’t use the Tor network. So PirateBrowser is not a replacement for the Tor Browser Bundle from the Tor project, or OperaTor – another browser bundle that combines Opera Browser with Tor and Privoxy to allow anonymous surfing.
The other enhancement in PirateBrowser is the FoxyProxy Firefox extension. FoxyProxy automatically switches an internet connection across one or more proxy servers based on URL switching rules that you can define. As already said, PirateBrowser comes with very specific switching rules that automatically connects to a proxy when users attempt to access certain websites.
The browser also has a number of torrent sites pre-bookmarked for you.
The current release of PirateBrowser is only available for the Windows platform but Mac and Linux versions will follow in the future.