For over four years, mobile app developer and privacy journalist Mike Tigas has been selling his Onion Browser, which encrypts and tunnels users’ web traffic through the Tor network, in the official App Store for the reasonable sum of 99 cents.
Fast forward to last year, when Tigas was working as a developer and investigative journalist in New York City. He was earning upwards of $2,000 USD a month from the app, but he couldn’t help but worry that its price tag was keeping anonymous browsing from those who required it.
Last month, he decided to make it freely available, reads a new report from Ars Technica. “Given recent events, many believe it’s more important than ever to exercise and support freedom of speech, privacy rights, and digital security; I think now is as good a time as ever to make Onion Browser more accessible to everyone,” Tigas wrote in a blog post.
Tigas clearly feels passionately in empowering people’s ability to improve their digital security and that is clearlyone of the motivations for no longer charging for the Tor browser he developed for the iOS platform. He continues in his blog post:
…selling an app inherently puts up a barrier to user adoption – not for users who simply don’t want to pay for software, but rather for those users who cannot pay for the software. (In many cases, this is due to possessing a grey market iPhone in a country where it’s unusual to have a payment method accepted by the App Store.) For censorship-circumventing software like Tor, barriers to access are a significant human rights issue – especially in the face of escalating digital repression in some parts of the world.
While he is offering the app for free, Tigas warns that versions of Onion Browser downloaded from outside the App Store might have been tampered with. As such, users should use caution if they themselves cannot download the app through official means.
Onion Browser can be downloaded now from the App Store absolutely free of cost.