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Internet Anonymizer Tor Working On Chat App

<p>Internet anonymizing service Tor is working on a new communication tool to keep your online conversations private.</p>
Tor Project

The extent of government collection of private data by the NSA and the GCHQ is enough to make anyone concerned about what they put out there. Anonymizing service Tor wants to help, and is working on a new communication tool to keep your online conversations private.

Called the Tor Instant Messaging Bundle, or TIMB, the service would add secure chat to Tor's existing browser bundle, which puts all the software necessary to browse the Web anonymously into one download. This capability would be very useful to people whose free speech is being threatened, or journalists who wish to protect an anonymous source.

The plan is to build out the capabilities of InstantBird, an open-source chat client, to integrate it more deeply with Tor's anonymizing network and add security features not necessary for casual messaging.

Despite reports that TIMB would soon be available, the tool is in fact only in the design phase and won't be out for quite a while.

"We're not expecting a generally available release of TIMB until 2015," wrote Tor's Andrew Lewman in an email to NBC News.

Tor has been an object of interest to law enforcement and federal investigators for years, as its ability to anonymize Internet browsing causes it to be associated with illegal services like the Silk Road. So with an official Tor application like this, which would likely be adopted by the service's many security-conscious users, it's probably best to take the time to get it right on the first try.