The Tor Project has released a beta version of Tor Messenger, a cross-platform chat client that values privacy above all else.

Based on Mozilla's Instantbird client, Tor Messenger is compatible with a variety of chat programs including Facebook Chat, Jabber (XMPP), Google Talk, Twitter and Yahoo, among others. As you'd expect, it sends all of its traffic over the Tor network and enables Off-the-Record (OTR) Messaging automatically.

In a blog post announcing the program, Tor said it considered using Pidgin and Adam Langley's xmpp-client as the foundation before ultimately deciding on Instantbird due to the fact that its transport protocols are written in JavaScript (a memory-safe language). Instantbird also earned praise for its GUI and support for many natural languages.

Because it's an XUL application, the team said it was able to leverage both the code (Tor Launcher) and the in-house expertise that the Tor Project has developed working on the Tor Browser for Firefox.

In a conversation with Wired, Tor public policy director Kate Krauss said that because chats are encrypted and anonymous, they're hidden from snoops which she said can be something as innocent as a company trying to sell you boots to a foreign government eavesdropping on your conversation.

With the beta launch, the developers aim to get some useful feedback as it relates to both usability and security.

The Tor Messenger beta is available to download for Windows, OS X and Linux.