We like to think that the internet is open and free but in many places that is simply not true. Internet censorship is a real issue for many internet users with many sites sitting behind state-sanctioned firewalls. There are ways around these blocks though, and the most famous, Tor Browser, has a new update that will make it even easier for users to bypass censorship. Let’s check it out.
Tor Browser stands for The Onion Router and allows users to connect to the Onion Network. The Onion Network encrypts web traffic at every node and transfer step, which allows it to evade censorship blocks. Tor Browser is updating the Tor connection experience so that it will automatically detect and circumvent internet censorship.
Tor has been working on this censorship circumvention tech for about a year now and it has been working pretty well. Up until now, however, the process has been manual, which means users have had to go into the browser’s settings and then figure out how to apply for a bridge to unlock the censored content. Making it even more confusing for the user, however, is the fact that censorship isn’t the same everywhere meaning different countries may require different bridges.
This new update, Tor Browser 11.5, works through this process automatically with Tor announcing in the blog post they released with the update:
“In collaboration with the Anti-Censorship team at the Tor Project, we’ve sought to reduce this burden with the introduction of Connection Assist: a new feature that when required will offer to automatically apply the bridge configuration we think will work best in your location for you.”
The feature works by downloading an up-to-date list of country-specific options to try out, without the user having to do anything other than giving consent.
This is great news for casual internet users in countries that have strict control over which websites can and can’t be visited. If that sounds like somewhere you live, you should definitely try to get your hands on the updated Tor Browser when it drops. You might also be interested in the dark web version of Wikipedia that puts the internet encyclopaedia in the hands of people living in internet-censored regions.