Tor Browser Downloads Are Up in 2017
The Tor Metrics website provides all sorts of information about the Tor Network, including how fast the network is, or how many daily users it has. The Metrics team recently expanded the Metrics page with a Mozilla grant, strengthening the infrastructure used to collect data.
One of the things Tor Metrics measures is how many times Tor Browser has been downloaded, and we decided to investigate how the first six months of 2017 measures up to the same time last year. Data from Tor Metrics tells us there was a 1.4 million increase in the number of Tor Browser downloads in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year. In all, download numbers increased from 16.1 million to 17.5 million.
The more Tor, the better
More Tor is good for lots of reasons: it means that journalists, activists, and other privacy-conscious individuals are taking steps to evade internet censorship or stop websites from tracking them as they browse the web. An increase in the number of Tor Browser downloads could also be evidence of some new censorship event, when users circumvent internet censors to access online resources and communities.
Privacy protections rolled back by the US government in March gave ISPs free reign to collect and sell your private information. We’re delighted that more people are realizing that there’s an alternative to the pervasive tracking and surveillance that many websites, ISPs, and agencies carry out.
Tor makes every user look the same, and the diversity of our user base is part of what makes Tor strong. The more people who use the network, the better Tor’s anonymity.
Browser download numbers don’t tell us everything -- we have no way of knowing many of those downloads are repeat downloaders, or for how long they stay using Tor. Those would be privacy-invasive metrics, and we don’t gather such information. But we still think that this number is meaningful, and we’re glad to see it increasing.