While we take internet access for granted, there are several regions in the world where people have little or censored access to the internet. The Tor project has always put in efforts to defeat censorship on the internet.
Taking this motto one step forward, the Tor project has released a new browser extension called ‘Snowflake.’ People who are censored can use Snowflake to access the internet.
Enabling this extension essentially turns your browser into a proxy that connects Tor users in censored regions to the Tor network. You can volunteer to help such people just by installing the addon.
How does Snowflake work?
Once you install Snowflake, censored users can access the internet through you. Put simply, their connection goes through Snowflake proxies, which are run by volunteers.
The official documentation for Snowflake reads:
“Snowflake is a pluggable transport that proxies traffic through temporary proxies using WebRTC, a peer-to-peer protocol with built-in NAT punching. It aims to work kind of like flash proxy, but without flash proxy’s problems with NAT.”
How to run a Snowflake proxy?
There are three different ways you can run Snowflake proxy:
Option 1: Via addon
Option 2: Via web browser
On the WebRTC enabled browser:
- Go to https://snowflake.torproject.org/ and click the “Yes” button to opt in to being a proxy
- Go to https://snowflake.torproject.org/snowflake and monitor the status messages. Do not close this page if you want to remain a snowflake bridge.
Option 3: Standalone
There is a third standalone method to run Snowflake. For more details on the same, you can refer to the documentation here.
Is it safe to use Snowflake?
If you are concerned about what kind of websites people might visit through your proxy, don’t worry! The visible browsing IP address of the censored users will match their Tor exit node, not yours. So you are safe.
The extension also informs how many people you have helped in the last 24 hours. If you have internet access that is not censored, you might consider installing the Snowflake extension to help users in censored networks.