THE ANONYMITY NETWORK Tor has long been the paranoid standard for privacy online, and the Tor Browser that runs on it remains the best way to use the web while revealing the least identifying data. Now the non-profit Tor Project has officially released another piece of software that could bring that same level of privacy to instant messaging: a seamless and simple app that both encrypts the content of IMs and also makes it very difficult for an eavesdropper to identify the person sending them.On Thursday the Tor Project launched its first beta version of Tor Messenger, its long-in-the-works, open source instant messenger client. The app, perhaps more than any other desktop instant messaging program, is designed for both simplicity and privacy by default: It integrates the “Off-the-Record” (OTR) protocol to encrypt messages and routes them over Tor just as seamlessly as the Tor Browser does for web data. It’s also compatible with the same XMPP or “Jabber” chat protocol used by millions of Facebook and Google accounts, as well as desktop clients like Adium for Mac and Pidgin for Windows. The result is that anyone can download the software and in seconds start sending messages to their pre-existing contacts that are not only strongly encrypted, but tunneled through Tor’s maze of volunteer computers around the world to hide the sender’s IP address.After some auditing, Tor Messenger is set to become a powerful and popular tool for instant, idiot-proof, and surveillance-resistant communication.“With Tor Messenger, your chat is encrypted and anonymous…so it is hidden from snoops, whether they are the government of a foreign country or a company trying to sell you boots,” Tor public policy director Kate Krauss wrote to WIRED in a Tor Messenger conversation. She emphasized that despite those features, the program’s use of a pre-existing chat protocol means users won’t need to rebuild their network of contacts. “You can use your Jabber address and your old contacts–you aren’t reinventing the wheel–but wow, much safer.”
After some auditing, Tor Messenger is set to become a powerful and popular tool for instant, idiot-proof, and surveillance-resistant communication.
Tor Messenger Beta: Chat over Tor, Easily
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