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Looking for a way to circumvent region blocking, or avoiding censorship? Whether you’re concerned about governments blocking social networks or political material, or something else altogether, solutions exist.
While the best option is to rely on a VPN or proxy, some people rely on browsers configured to avoid censorship. The PirateBrowser and its alternative, PirateSnoop, are two such options. But should you use them?
What Is the PirateBrowser?
First released in 2013, the PirateBrowser is a web browser issued by the Pirate Bay website. The notorious file sharing site created the browser to help members find the site after it was banned. Basically, it lets the user circumvent censorship.
The PirateBrowser is a version of Mozilla Firefox with the FoxyProxy add-on. There is also Tor integration (using Vidalia), which helps to beat censorship. For example, sites blocked in countries across the European Union, Iran, and North Korea can be accessed using the Pirate Browser.
Sites blocked or limited by ISPs are unblocked when viewing with the PirateBrowser.
A second browser, PirateSnoop, has also been released. Operating along similar lines, this alternative is based on the Chrome browser rather than Firefox.
Isn’t Accessing the Pirate Bay Illegal?
The Pirate Bay has been blocked in many countries around the world, especially in the European Union. This is largely because of the liberal attitude of its founders to copyright laws. If you can visit the Pirate Bay website, it’s unlikely that you would be breaking any law. Once you start downloading torrent files, however…
Don’t worry about having to access the Pirate Bay when using the PirateBrowser. The download link above directs to a third-party website and your use of the browser is totally legal. You don’t need to go anywhere near the Pirate Bay to use this browser.
The Pirate Bay is not a great option for legal or illegal torrents. If you want to torrent safely, choose one of these free, legitimate torrent site alternatives.
However, you’ll find that the PirateBrowser or PirateSnoop have some surprising legal uses. If you use your chosen Tor-based browser in the right way, you might even save a few dollars.
1. Avoid Censorship
If you’re looking for a way to avoid censorship, PirateBrowser and PirateSnoop are tools you should have installed.
internet censorship is a problem for many people around the world. They might live in “free” counties like those in the European Union, or in oppressive regimes such as Iran, China, or North Korea. Daily life might be easy, or it might be difficult; perhaps carried out in ignorance. What is going on in the world beyond their nations?
What crimes are being committed by the state against their countrymen?
With a free censorship-avoiding browser, barriers to information can be broken down immediately.
Want to find out what is happening in the world beyond the closed doors of your country’s internet? Check our guide to the best censorship-free news sources.
2. Circumvent Region Blocking
Another good reason to use the PirateBrowser or PirateSnoop is to enjoy geo-blocked video streaming services.
Geo-blocking (also known as region blocking) takes place when a video streaming service restricts access to media based on location. For example, Netflix subscribers in the UK have a smaller library than those in the USA. As a result, some people use tools to bypass the region blocking in order to access Netflix US.
Netflix isn’t alone in blocking specific countries from accessing its service. Often, it’s done for a good reason, related to how cast and crew are paid. But viewers with subscriptions to the service rarely care about such “rights issues.”
Note that if you’re in the USA, however, the PirateBrowser will not help you watch BBC iPlayer. Instead, use a VPN like ExpressVPN.
3. Get Better Prices for Goods, Hotels, and Flights
Online stores of all kinds base their pricing on where you are based. With a tool like PirateBrowser, you can visit sites selling technology and other goods and get a different price. This might even be substantially lower than the price on offer in your usual browser.
This is a trick that is regularly used with a VPN. Usually, booking flights and hotel stays can prove cheaper by visiting a different version of the usual site. For example, you might live in country A and book from country B to make a saving.
While this option isn’t available in PirateBrowser, its ability to circumvent website detection can result in lower prices.
The PirateBrowser Is Not Anonymous
If you want to use the PirateBrowser to avoid censorship, dodge region blocking, or get better prices, you can. You might even find some other uses.
But none of these activities will be anonymous. Websites you visit will be able to identify you. Your local internet provider might also be able to observe your actions. While this may not be a problem in the UK or USA, it could result in a very vast visit from the security services in Iran or North Korea.
In short, if you’re looking for a way to keep your online activity off the record, the PirateBrowser and PirateSnoop are not the solution.
This is because proxy avoidance and Tor technology are used in the PirateBrowser; neither offers encryption. Only encryption can deliver easy anonymity on the internet, so if privacy and security are important (and they should be) check our list of the best VPNs.
Secure Alternatives to the PirateBrowser
You might expect a browser that essentially ensures that you can access blocked websites would be secure.
By now, you should understand that it isn’t. It’s simply capable of thwarting the blocks that ISPs put on certain websites. These might be political, social, religious, even. It might merely be a social network that is blocked in your area. The PirateBrowser and PirateSnoop can sidestep ISP blocks with very little effort.
So, if you wanted a secure browser, what would you use? Now is a good time to look at our comparison of the most secure mainstream browsers.