Tor introduces WebTunnel feature to help curb censorship
03/20/2024 // News Editors // Views

Censorship-resistant technologies have taken a significant leap forward as the Tor Project officially unveils WebTunnel, a unique bridge configuration designed to elude oppressive censorship aiming at the Tor network.

(Article by Ken Macon republished from

Functionally, WebTunnel allows Tor network connections to stay hidden in open sight by appearing indistinguishable from regular HTTPS traffic, an essential camouflage in countries with strict internet regulations.

Tor bridges serve as unlisted relays in the public Tor directory, enabling user connections to remain concealed, especially from autocratic regimes intent on internet censorship.

Even though countries like China and Iran have devised methods to identify and cut off these connections, Tor has previously deployed obfsproxy bridges offering an additional obfuscation level.

However, WebTunnel breaks new ground here by merging with HTTPS-encrypted web traffic, providing a smokescreen for Tor connections.

A key feature of WebTunnel’s design is its blend-in tactic: emulating HTTPS would render it unblockable without also blocking the lion’s share of connections to web servers.

By this logic, WebTunnel connections would also be allowed, thereby sidestepping censorship in networks with protocol permit lists and deny-by-default policies. This innovative means of circumventing censorship helps protect users’ online privacy in repressive regions.

WebTunnel was initially tested as an integrated feature in a Tor Browser test build in December 2022 and has been available for early trial deployment by bridge operators since June 2023. Despite its widespread usage and its proven efficacy in countries like China and Russia, WebTunnel currently faces challenges in certain regions of Iran.

The Tor Project highlights: “Our goal is to ensure that Tor works for everyone. In a world marred by geopolitical strife that imperils millions, the internet has emerged as an indispensable lifeline – for communication, documentation, organization, human rights advocacy – and builds solidarity.”

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