The Pirate Bay celebrated its 10th birthday earlier in August and to celebrate, the infamous torrent site released “PirateBrowser,” a customized version of Mozilla Firefox that helps users access The Pirate Bay in countries where it has been banned by governments.
In just two weeks, PirateBrowser has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. The downloads coincide with a report by Roger Dingledine, the project leader of the anonymous web-browsing tool Tor, that Tor users have jumped from 600,000 to 1.2 million since Aug. 19.
Dingledine said he was unsure what has caused the increase in users, but wondered if PirateBrowser could have played a role.
“It’s easy to speculate (Pirate Browser publicity gone overboard? People finally reading about the NSA thing? Botnet?), bu some good solid facts would sure be useful,” Dingledine said in an email.
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PirateBrowser is based on the Tor network, but TorrentFreak doubts that the downloads have had much effect on the increase in Tor users. For one, the spike in Tor users started about a week after PirateBrowser launched. The increase in Tor usage has also primarily come from South America in countries where The Pirate Bay isn’t censored. In places like the UK where ThePirateBay is blocked, there has only been a modest increase in Tor usage.
The big difference is that PirateBrowser is designed to avoided censorship while Tor is designed to protect anonymity. The numbers are likely just a coincidence.
Pirate Bay is reportedly working on more tools to avoid censorship, including a BitTorrent-powered application.