Within three days of its launch, infamous torrent website the Pirate Bay’s new censor-free browser has already been downloaded more than 100,000 times, and the official torrent is currently being shared by more than 5,000 people.
A modification of Mozilla’s Firefox 23 bundled with a Tor client and advanced proxy settings to speed up webpages, the PirateBrowser is designed to bypass censored pages. Available for Windows (with Mac and Linux browsers to be released soon), the PirateBrowser ostensibly allows users to access The Pirate Bay while in countries where it is blocked — including the Netherlands, the UK and Italy. It also works for other blocked sites as well, which makes it an ideal client for users who are interested in surfing where their government does not allow.
However, it’s important to note that the browser is not secure or anonymous — it simply dances around ISP filtering. While it is on the Tor network, PirateBrowser has a stripped-down version that cuts down on full-time proxies and ISP masking so browsing remains at a relatively speedy pace. If a completely anonymous experience is what you’re after, then The Pirate Bay suggests a VPN like Privacy IO.
Regardless, PirateBrowser, released to mark the 10th anniversary of the torrent site, is yet another step towards a suite of tools that help users finagle around irrational web blockades. It will also be interesting to see whether the program rises above its pirating routes to become a free go-to solution to get past censors in oppressed countries — a goal that the U.S. government has been actively pursuing for a long time.