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Latest update to privacy-focused Tor browser seeks to ease bypassing censorship

Latest update to privacy-focused Tor browser seeks to ease bypassing censorship
19 Jul, 2022
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A new update to Tor, the privacy focused browser, has introduced a new feature that could help ease the process of bypassing internet censorship and content restrictions. On July 14, the Tor Network announced the introduction of Connection Assistant – a feature that could help users understand the right configuration that could be required for them to access parts of the internet that are restricted in their own country.

So far, bypassing geographical content restrictions required users to manually configure a bridge, or a virtual network path, on Tor. This bridge configuration, however, would be different depending on which nation a user is based in – and sometimes even parameters around what content restrictions are they trying to bypass.

However, this process was largely deemed as complicated for basic users, thereby somewhat restricting Tor’s usage to within a community of advanced and savvy users. It is this that Tor’s latest Connection Assistant claims to resolve.

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In a statement, a Tor Network spokesperson said, “Censorship of Tor isn't uniform, and while a certain pluggable transport or bridge configuration may work in one country, that doesn't mean it'll work elsewhere.”

Connection Assistant will scan for a user’s present location, and ping Tor’s network to automatically download the best possible network bridge configuration to bypass restrictions within a region. The move could make Tor much more accessible to a wider section of users, since based on the demonstrations published by Tor itself, the Assistant appears to work like a single-click feature that requires no technical knowhow to use.

However, the Tor Network post added that the feature is still in early stage implementation, so it may not be available for all – and may also not work for everyone. “Users from countries where the Tor Network may be blocked, such as Belarus, China, Russia and Turkmenistan, can test the most recent iteration of this feature by volunteering as an alpha tester, and reporting their findings on the Tor forum,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

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Tor is regarded as a web browser that configures network settings and allows users to access the deep web. The browser is popular for research projects and unfiltered internet searches – but has also faced controversies for being used by nefarious individuals.