Want to circumvent Internet censorship without the hassle of installing Tor? PirateBrowser from the Pirate Bay may be your answer — provided your browsing needs align with the browser’s intended purpose.
PirateBrowser, which the torrent site the Pirate Bay introduced in 2013, combines Tor and Firefox into a simple but elegant package. The app works mostly the same as a standard Firefox browser, but it comes preconfigured to allow access to certain sites that are otherwise blocked in particular countries.
PirateBrowser is also designed to be portable. Rather than installing itself into system directories, it can run from from any directory on your computer. That means you can save it on a USB stick to bring with you and run anywhere, as well as keep it on your personal computer.
Here’s the major downside: Although PirateBrowser comes with Tor built-in, it uses Tor only for limited purposes. In particular, it provides access to blocked torrent-related sites, not all censored websites, and it doesn’t anonymize users’ identity.
The app’s developers are upfront about these design limitations. They explain on their website that it is “not intended to be a TOR Browser.” They add, “while it uses the Tor network, which is designed for anonymous surfing, this browser is ONLY intended to circumvent censorship.”
PirateBrowser also doesn’t include ad blocking software or other common privacy add-ons for Firefox. And it only supports Windows.
The app’s limited functionality may make it unappealing to some people. If you want a complete anti-censorship and anonymity solution, you’ll need to use full-blown Tor client or a VPN.
That said, the fact that the browser uses Tor only for certain purposes can be an advantage for some users. Piping all of your traffic through Tor can slow down your connection considerably. Since PirateBrowser uses Tor only to connect users to certain censored sites, it is an optimal solution for people who need access only to those resources but don’t want to use Tor for everything.