Users of the Brave browser can now do their part in the fight against online censorship following the latest update.
This isn't the first move the secure browser has taken in an effort to elude internet restrictions, having previously introduced support for Tor Bridges in Private Windows with Tor in its 1.44 version. But the company's new feature is a step forward to empower the Brave community in promoting an open and free internet for all - just from right behind their screens.
Brave and Tor Snowflake
Brave's latest upgrade adds the Tor Snowflake feature directly to its browser system. This is a peer-to-peer technology developed by the Tor Project to allow people around the world to access censored sites and applications.
Like many of the best VPN services, Snowflake helps those living under strict internet restrictions to bypass online censorship.
However, as Tor explains in a blog post: "Unlike VPNs, you do not need to install a separate application to connect to a Snowflake proxy and bypass censorship. It is usually a circumvention feature embedded within existing apps."
Powered by a mixture of proxy technology and WebRTC protocol, Snowflake masks users' internet activities making them appear as if they're using the web for a regular video or voice call. It then automatically assigns ephemeral Tor Bridges to grant access to blocked sites to whoever needs it.
At the same time, it secures users' privacy and anonymity so that authorities won't be able to know if and when someone manages to elude their online restrictions.
Tor Bridges, already available on the Brave browser since last September, are volunteer-run relay software aiming to help people access Tor in case of blockage.
Essentially, they give users an alternative point of access to the Onion routing.
To enable the feature on the Brave Browser, you should head on the Settings menu and tap on the Privacy and Security tab. Click on the Tor Windows to select or manually add an active built-in Bridge.
Snowflake represents the natural evolution to this. In fact, anyone willing to help others to access Tor can now enable the browser extension on a selected Tor Bridge by simply switching on the option.
This means that users' devices aren't just acting as the middleman between an external computer and the Tor site. They also allow the flow of encrypted messages between Snowflake-running and the other computers inside the Tor network.
While everyone can do their part to help people worldwide accessing Tor at ease, it is worth noting that the Snowflake's feature doesn't work for users living in countries where Tor is censored and/or accessing the internet via their school or workplace firewall.
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Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org