As the Internet Freedom project expands, the snowflake becomes a snowstorm

In my chat with Serene, an Internet freedom activist and former Google Ideas engineer, I ask, “Can I talk to you right now? Legally?”

They were both in the US, so yeah, I think they were good, he replies.

As one of the few tools to access blocked and censored information on the web, Serene’s Snowflake is widely used by citizens of oppressive regimes. It is mainly done using Tor, an open source browser that allows for safe, private and anonymous Internet browsing.

Snowflake is one of the few pluggable transports, also known as a Tor bridge, currently available for the browser. By making it appear as if a user is making a regular video or voice call, the project allows users to bypass Internet censorship.

Now it’s unveiling Snowstorm, an updated version of Snowflake, which Serene says will be faster, more generalized, and with more features. Snowstorm is fast enough to stream YouTube videos, which previous versions couldn’t do.

The software has been rewritten and reinvented using Rust and a system-wide client, which proves that the software isn’t based on Tor. As a result, users will have more choice and agency.

Additionally, Snowstorm has set up its own company that will maintain the code and support a full-time team of lead developers.

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