Tigas cited “recent events” as the reason for making the app free, which previously costed $0.99
App developer and privacy journalist Mike Tigas has made his privacy-conscious Onion web browser free for iOS users, four years after it was first made available on the Apple App Store.
Up until recently it had been available for just $0.99 (£0.69), the lowest non-free price allowed by Apple, but the cost has been scrapped due to Tigas’ worries that the price was limiting access to anonymous browsing for those who need it most.
The move has sparked a tidal wave of interest, with the app receiving thousands of downloads every day since the price was removed.
“Given recent events, many believe it’s more important than ever to exercise and support freedom of speech, privacy rights, and digital security,” Tigas wrote in a blog post. “I think now is as good a time as ever to make Onion Browser more accessible to everyone.
“Selling an app inherently puts up a barrier to user adoption — not for users who simply don’t want to pay for software, but rather for those users who cannot pay for the software. (In many cases, this is due to possessing a grey market iPhone in a country where it’s unusual to have a payment method accepted by the App Store.)
“For censorship-circumventing software like Tor, barriers to access are a significant human rights issue — especially in the face of escalating digital repression in some parts of the world.”
Tigas also explained how the “reliable” income he previously earned through the app helped him to move to New York for a new job, whilst also enabling him to “continue working on side projects that have a positive impact in the world.”
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