Sounds bad for law enforcement, right? Well, the bad guys already know how to cloak their Internet traffic, so any concerns that Tor circuits may be aiding criminals is a bit simplistic. Supported by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) and other privacy rights organizations, Tor circuits are designed to promote free speech, allowing users in countries with oppressive censorship laws to search for alternative information by using IP addresses outside their own country. But use of Tor circuits is not without controversy. Recently, several Tor servers in Germany were seized as part of a child pornography investigation, and many college students, looking to circumvent university controls on downloading copyrighted material, have already discovered Torpark.
Depending upon the time of day, your connection speed, and the number of Tor users worldwide, you may not be able to use Torpark at all. After 90 seconds of trying to establish a connection, Torpark provides the following options: keep waiting, wait and don't ask again, restart Tor, or quit Torpark. We tried launching Torpark at several different times over three days and found that most of the time we could establish a Tor circuit; however, one time we simply could not, no matter how long we waited. The established circuits themselves are very interesting. Your final Tor IP address (the address the Web site sees) might be located in another country, so you might find yourself staring at the English-language default page for Google France or Google Germany.
We like that Torpark includes an extension to display our current Tor IP address at the bottom of the browser; you can even set Torpark to change every minute if you are really paranoid. That said, we also found a few occasions when our IP address on display was an unprintable word.
Even without a second computer running Firefox, most people will notice a performance hit within Torpark when the Tor circuit is enabled--worse if you run Torpark exclusively from a USB drive. Without the Tor circuit enabled, however, we found Torpark's resolution speeds to be faster than Internet Explorer's, closer to Firefox's, even when accessing graphics-heavy pages.
Technical support for Torpark is limited. Using the help menu within the browser simply returns the standard Mozilla Firefox help information. To find the Torpark manual, look under the Bookmarks menu or online. There are no Torpark staff members standing by to help with e-mail questions, nor are there static FAQs available. Torpark directs users to its Torpark forums for all solutions.
Unless you are feeling oppressed by your government, university, or company, there's no real reason to switch over to Torpark.