Anybody who has ever tried to torrent knows about The Pirate Bay website. It is among the leading and most famous torrent sites ever. But did you know that the website has its own web browser? No? Well, you’re not the only one. While the browser has been able to gain a decent reputation among torrenters, many are still unaware of its existence.
The Pirate Bay site staff released this browser on their 10th birthday. This browser utilizes the Tor network and lets the users access banned sites. Such a feature allows them to access even those sites that are normally blocked in their countries. However, that doesn’t mean that the users can access every blocked site out there, just the selected 20-something. And, all of those sites are related to BitTorrent in a way. So, the Pirate Bays Browser is not as useful as the TPB staff claim it to be. But it still has pros as well. Let’s take a look.
Pirate Bays Browser overview
The Pirate Bays Browser is a browser created and released by the popular The Pirate Bay website. It was first made available to the public back in 2013. The TPB staff created the browser intending to make the site accessible if it was ever banned. Basically, the browser uses the Tor network and helps the users bypass blocks.
While the number of accessible sites isn’t that great, the site still offers its users to use some blocked sites. Sites that would have otherwise needed a VPN to access them. This makes the browser a perfect choice for those living in countries with heavy censorship like Iran, North Korea, etc.
The legality of the Pirate Browser
Now, here’s the most significant question: “Is the Pirate Bays Browser even legal?” Well, the browser itself is completely legal. What isn’t legal is the act of piracy. Any individual or site distributing copyrighted content without the owner’s consent is doing wrong. Piracy is seen as a serious crime in all countries and could invite legal trouble. So, it’s no surprise that The Pirate Bay site has been declared illegal in a lot of countries. But that doesn’t apply to the browser. As long as you don’t open torrent sites and download paid material for free, you’d be fine. In such cases, it is pretty much like a normal web browser like Chrome or Firefox. However, once you start downloading torrent files, you put yourself at risk of facing legal trouble.
The privacy and security aspects of the Pirate Browser
When talking about any browser, its privacy and security aspects are of great importance. In fact, they are what make a browser good. So, let’s check them out.
This browser utilizes the Tor network to access a hidden proxy server. However, that doesn’t mean that it conceals your ID. In fact, it is proven the browser doesn’t make you anonymous. But that should not be a surprise, right? Even the browser home page makes it very clear. So, if you’re looking for hiding your ID, this browser should not be your choice. The browser just uses the Tor network for unblocking blocked sites. Thus, if you are among the users who think their ID is guarded as they see Vidalia running Tor, think again.
Besides that, the browser doesn’t even support the private browsing mode. That, no doubt, adds to the privacy issue. However, the browser doesn’t save your browsing history. That is only if you opt for the clear history option at the exit. Also, it lacks any ad blockers and keeps the inbuilt pop-up blocker turned off. Plus, it accepts all kinds of cookies. And, that includes even the third-party sites. So, that’s a serious privacy concern.
You can find some amazing web security features in web browsers like Firefox. But that is not the case for the Pirate Bays Browser. Surprisingly, even the “Block reported attack sites” tick box is not ticked in this browser. It seems that even the TPB staff knows that if this box was checked, the browser won’t be able to access many BitTorrent sites. Such things make this browser even worse than some of the most basic browsers out there today as regards security.
Now coming to the performance aspect of the browser, it is very much like Firefox. While it’s true that it uses the Tor network, it still can’t be labeled as slow. If the browser truly used a full-fledged Tor setup, the story would have been different, though. Mostly, the browser opens sites pretty fast. But sometimes it might end up showing the error message “Could not connect to caching server 00.” Thus, it is clear that the browser won’t always be your lifesaver. Especially, if you are in an urgent need to access those blocked sites.
How effective is the bypass feature of the Pirate Browser?
While the browser advertised a lot about its unblocking abilities, it still falls short. It only works when one tries to access sites like the TPB or similar BitTorrent sites. Hence, the browser shouldn’t be your first choice if all you look for is to bypass blocks. In addition, you don’t even get the privacy and security of an actual Tor setup. As is known, setting up a real Tor network is no harder than setting up this browser. However, one drawback of such a setup is that it reduces your browser speed a bit.
The browser ads might also end up making users believe that their browsing is private. But as we have already seen, it is not the case. Your browser still remains visible. In fact, there are better ways to bypass blocks like using a standard Tor bundle. Or, opt for something better, a VPN. Nonetheless, this browser never claims anything more than it can deliver. So, props for the honesty.
Pros and cons of this browser
Let us check some of the pros and cons of this browser. First, the pros:
- The browser utilizes the Tor network to let users bypass internet blocks. This helps them access many sites the governments have blocked. Thus, while limited, this feature becomes a lifesaver for users living in countries where censorship is heavy.
- The browser can be run from a USB drive or local hard drive.
- Its speed is pretty much like browsers such as Firefox. Besides the security, you can avail almost all features of them in this browser.
Now, here are the cons:
- The unblocking feature of the browser only works in the case of some particular sites. And, that is, only a group of 20-something BitTorrent-related sites.
- The use of the Tor network by the browser might trick some users into thinking that it’s an anonymous browser. While in reality, the browser doesn’t hide your ID.
- The browser supports no ad blockers.
- It offers no BitTorrent client.
- It lacks some serious web security features that are available in browsers like Firefox.
Pirate Bays Browser alternatives
Here are some alternatives to the browser. Knowing about them will help you in times when this browser wouldn’t be available or something like that. Also, some of these browsers are proven to be richer in features and security. So, you might want to ditch the Pirate Browser altogether and shift to one of these browsers.
Here is a list of some of its best alternatives:
- Tor Browser
- Brave Browser
- Ungoogled Chromium
- Pale Moon
- Vivaldi Browser
- Torch Browser
- Opera Mini
- Firefox Portable Browser
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can using the Pirate Browser land me in jail?
The browser itself isn’t illegal. While The Pirate Bay is banned in many nations, the browser stays uninfluenced by that. The reason is that it’s pretty much like any other browser. So, browsing and downloading from legal sites won’t be a problem. It could only become problematic when you try to access and download copyrighted material from torrent sites. So, stay away from piracy.
Is the Pirate Browser slow?
No, it’s not. Its speed is just like Firefox. That is because the use of the Tor network by the browser is quite limited. If it used a full Tor setup, the case would’ve been different.
Can I torrent without using a VPN?
No. The act of torrenting is very risky in itself. Combine that with not using a proper VPN and you have a recipe for disaster. It could even make you face legal trouble. So, never try torrenting without using a VPN.
As you can see, using the Pirate Browser is not illegal or anything like that. But always prevent yourself from indulging in piracy. Otherwise, you might even go to jail. Also, the browser lacks seriously in the privacy, security, and features department. There are many better alternatives out there. So, whether you’re going to give this browser a try or not is totally up to you. Peace Out!