The 10 year anniversary "present" from The Pirate Bay proves popular and oft shared

On Saturday, the world's largest Torrent indexing site The Pirate Bay (also reportedly the internet's "most censored" website) released a special build of Firefox dubbed "The Pirate Browser".  The rebundled browser carries built-in security technology in honor of its tenth birthday on the internet.  The site wrote:

Do you know any people who can't access TPB or other torrents-sites because they are blocked? Recommend PirateBrowser to them. It's a simple one-click browser that circumvents censorship and blockades and makes the site instantly available and accessible. No bundled ad-ware, toolbars or other crap, just a Pre-configured Firefox browser.

A nice present to TPB and our users on this day, our 10yr birthday!

While only available for users of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows operating system (sorry Apple, Inc. (AAPL) Mac users and Linux fans), the browser has managed to rack up 100,000 downloads as of this morning, three days later, according to TorrentFreak.

The Pirate Browser
Built on Firefox 23, The Pirate Browser bundles in the foxyproxy addon and Tor client (Vidalia), as well as some custom settings, in order circumvent blacklisting of popular torrent and forums sites.

The browser is built on the Mozilla Foundation's open-source Firefox 23 browser (released Aug. 6), with Tor anonymizing software features built into it.  But before you get excited be aware that the "Pirate Browser" does not anonymize your everyday traffic -- for that you need full fledged Tor software and/or a virtual proxy network (VPN) subscription.  

What the browser does use Tor for is to circumvent any government or service provider blockades on popular hacker or filesharing websites -- including The Pirate Bay (TBP).  Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy, and Ireland have all blocked TBP on a national level, so if you live in one of those countries you might want to check out the Pirate Browser.  Even in countries like the U.S. more and more ISPs are blocking sites like the TBP or 4Chan, so this may come in handy more often than you'd hope.

Some of these bans are forced by the government.  For example, an Irish federal court sided with major music labels in a lawsuit against TBP, ordering all ISPs to block the site within 30 days.  Others, like Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) have reportedly banned TBP on their own volition complaining that filesharing allows customers to "overuse" their "unlimited" data lines, cutting into company profits.

The Pirate Bay
The Pirate Bay claims to be the world's most censored website.  [ImageSource: ByteLove]

A 2009 ruling by TBP's home nation of Sweden handed down prison sentences and stiff fines for a number of TBP cofounders/admins.  The judge who ruled in the case later admitted to having worked for a former copyright enforcement industry group and critics say he acted punitively against the site's admins, despite a weak showing by the prosecution during the trial phase.  A Swedish national appeals court refused to overturn that decision, although it trimmed the fines/sentences of the accused admins slightly. That apparent cronyism helped prompt a populist backlash, which voted "Pirate Party" politicians into some of Sweden's EU Parliament seats.

After losing that major court dispute, the service floated around a bit before settling in Sint Maarten, a tiny Caribbean island nation, which is an autonomous colony of the Netherlands.  Home to only a little over 37,000 people, the island nation controls the domain county code *.sx -- somewhat similar to Sweden's *.se code.

Users should be wary, though, that the "censorship fighting" technology doesn't accidentally allow malware containing sites that would otherwise be blocked at a browser to be visited.  When in doubt, use Google Inc.'s (GOOG) search engine, which generally spots infections before even the affected sites notice.

If you want to take the Pirate Browser out for a spin, click here and download away.

Sources: The Pirate Bay [d/l], The Pirate Bay [press release], TorrentFreak

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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