What do you do when you work for the most censored website in the world? Provide a way to access it of course.
There is a new Internet browser on the market, one that has taken the web by storm. The Pirate Bay, an organisation usually associated with running the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker, online file sharing, and an uncanny ability to escape prosecution time and time again, have released the PirateBrowser – a gift to the community following the website’s ten years sailing the Internet’s high seas.
Dubbed ‘censorship-free’, the PirateBrowser has been designed in order to facilitate the circumvention of Internet censorship, citing Iran, North Korea, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland as nations where the browser will be useful.
“Do you know any people who can’t access TPB or other torrents-sites because they are blocked? Recommend PirateBrowser to them,” suggests the blog post announcing the new browser.
“It’s a simple one-click browser that circumvents censorship and blockades and makes the site instantly available and accessible. No bundled ad-ware, toolbars or other crap.”
Within three days of being made available over 100,000 people have downloaded the client, with downloads still topping over 1,000 every hour, an interest which The Pirate Bay never anticipated:
“I didn’t think it would catch on so fast. I guess people want to see the websites their governments and courts are trying to hide from them,” The Pirate Bay told TorrentFreak.
The browser is essentially a modified version of the well-renowned Firefox browser, preconfigured to use Tor and other proxy services in order to bypass any site blocks. It has not been designed as a replacement for Chrome or Firefox, nor will it provide Internet anonymity; it is merely a tool to be employed in the fight against Internet censorship.
The blocking of websites in the UK has been on the rise in recent years; in April 2012, UK ISPs were ordered to block access to The Pirate Bay by the high court, a move which actually saw traffic to the website increase. A number of other websites, including Newzbin2, KickassTorrents, H33T, EZTV and Fenopy, have seen similar blocks implemented against them, preventing access from conventional browsers without the use of a proxy service.
The PirateBrowser has been preconfigured to allow its user to access these websites out of the box; no need for any tinkering or to find a proxy service. With David Cameron’s recently announced nationwide Porn block, the UK is currently sliding down a slippery slope towards internet censorship; software like the PirateBrowser may be increasingly important as an anti-censorship tool, rather than just being used to facilitate online piracy, as the government seeks to further control what we can and cannot access online.
The Pirate Bay team has said the browser’s popularity was unexpected, and is determined to provide more anti-censorship tools. They are also working on a new BitTorrent application, one which will allow the storing and distribution of The Pirate Bay website on users computers, meaning it will be impossible to block it. Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde and Linus Olsson have also seen much interest in their NSA-proof crowdfunded messaging app Hemlis, which secured over $100,000 in donations in around 24 hours.