April 26, 2012 at 5:34 PM ET
There are many reasons to want to browse anonymously, but depending on your level of paranoia, the solutions out there might not be good enough. However, the new Onion Browser for iPhone could be the ultimate in obfuscation. Using the Tor network, it makes every byte going to and from the browser nearly impossible to track.
Tor is a service that routes your data through a sort of tunnel composed of Tor-connected computers, allowing connections to be made more or less anonymously, though with a significant penalty to transfer speed. Until now there was no easy way to connect your mobile browser to it, but Onion makes it a snap.
You install it just like a regular browser and there's some initial configuration of Tor, but after that it should be fairly easy to operate. You can manage cookies to control who tracks you between sites, and at any time you can create a "New Identity" that clears away every record and gets you a new IP address.
It's not perfect, of course, so don't go blabbing about your plans for world domination just yet. It changes the location of your data but doesn't encrypt it, and some Web services might leak information about your "true" location or Web history if you're not careful. And don't forget that it's just this browser that gets anonymized, not your email app or IMs. But it's a big step toward securing your phone's data connection and one that isn't particularly difficult to do.
Onion Browser costs $0.99 in the App Store, of which the author will donate 10 percent to the Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.