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Tor has plans for an anonymous instant messenger

The developers behind anonymous browsing utility Tor have revealed plans to extend its functionality to include secure instant messaging. Documents emerging from the Tor Project’s winter developers meeting point to a new IM tool that will “provide a secure communication tool which supports the free flow of information online.”

A post on the Tor wiki identifies the existing Instantbird client as a possible starting point, and highlights the need to hire a forensics expert to audit third-party components of the future bundle. No exact timeframe has been given for the arrival of this anonymous instant messaging tool, but the wheels are in motion.

If you’ve read this far and are completely bemused, our beginner’s guide to Tor might be of help. At its core, it’s a browsing technology that helps to prevent websites and other users from tracking your identity or location. The software has been thrust into the spotlight in the wake of various revelations about how the NSA and other spy agencies monitor Internet traffic.

The TorChat client that already exists does send instant messages over the Tor network, but unlike the new software that’s in the works it isn’t an official Tor Project release. Tox is another secure instant messaging app in the early stages of development.

The coders behind the new app are planning to translate it into several different languages, build in automatic encryption and disable any features that could potentially be used to log conversations. Whether you’re trying to get your voice heard from an oppressive regime or simply wanting to stop Google monitoring your IM history, it should be worth keeping tabs on the program’s development.