Tor, the world’s most popular online anonymity service, is poised to launch the first version of a new anonymous instant messenger on July 15, according to the program’s creators.
If Tor can succeed in building a powerful but simple anonymous messenger, Tor Instant Messaging Bundle (TIMB) will go a long way toward democratizing the digital privacy movement that Tor has long been leading.
TIMB has been in development since late last year and was originally slated for an early release by March 31, but that date has repeatedly been pushed back, first to May 15 and now to mid-July. The early builds scheduled to be released will serve as a proof of concept, enabling users to give feedback, but they will not offer all the security properties of the final bundle.
TIMB is being built with the open-source Instantbird messenger client and will be bundled with the general Tor Launcher in the following months.
The delays, developers say, come as they try to build off-the-record messaging (OTR) into the new messenger. OTR, which is essential to the security of TIMB, is a strong encryption protocol used for instant-messaging conversations. In addition to Tor concealing the identity and location of TIMB’s users, off-the-record chatting will hide the contents of the messages from any potential eavesdroppers, be they hackers or police.
The Tor developers dedicated to this project, led by Arlo Breault and Sukhbir Singh, have been communicating with the Instantbird developers for months in an effort to add support for off-the-record messaging. The new goal, as stated by the Tor developers, is to have official support added this month so TIMB can have its first release in July.