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This article was published on September 11, 2019

Mozilla pilots its VPN service for Firefox desktop users in the US

Mozilla pilots its VPN service for Firefox desktop users in the US Image by: Mozilla

Mozilla is officially launching its Firefox Private Network VPN service for desktop users in the US.

The VPN service, currently in beta, is part of a pilot experiment to test-drive new, privacy-centric products from the Firefox maker. It will be available as a separate browser add-on.

“The Firefox Private Network is an extension which provides a secure, encrypted path to the web to protect your connection and your personal information anywhere and everywhere you use your Firefox browser,” Mozilla said.

The VPN currently works only on desktops, but is expected to be available on mobile platforms as well once it exits beta.

Firefox VPN operates just like any other VPN service. It will encrypt all your web traffic through a collection of remote proxy servers, thereby anonymizing your true location and protecting your data from prying eyes. Using a VPN, however, will neither keep your browsing habits anonymous nor will it add an additional layer of security.

To meet those anonymity and security requirements, you should switch to Tor browser, and ensure you’re always connecting to websites using HTTPS as opposed to HTTP.

Mozilla’s proxy servers are provided by web infrastructure and security company Cloudflare, citing its “strong privacy controls” that limit data collection and retention.

Although the service is free during the beta phase, it’s expected to be the company’s first paid offering since CEO Chris Beard confirmed the company’s plans for a premium version of Firefox back in June.

It’s worth noting here that Opera offers a similar built-in free VPN service that lets users switch to a different geographical location to route their web traffic. But you may want to consider paying for a VPN, as a free model will almost certainly rely on collecting data on your habits to offset the cost.

Mozilla primarily makes money off Google being the default search engine on Firefox. But the post-Cambridge Analytica privacy climate has emboldened the company to seek out a variety of revenue models, including running a limited partnership with ProtonVPN, and roll out privacy-focused tools and products.

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