Mozilla is publicly beta-testing its own browser-based VPN-like service that can help protect its users privacy while they are surfing around on public Wi-Fi. This move could also give a little financial independence to the Mozilla. If you are a U.S. resident, you can get in on the action.
The Firefox Private Network seems like it could be useful, but it does have its limits. It’s a browser-based VPN, so it won’t mask anything you are doing on the internet outside of Firefox and you’d need to install a dedicated VPN app if you want to protect more of your internet traffic. Mozilla recommends using Firefox Private Network if you want to have an encrypted connection while using Firefox on a public Wi-Fi network or if you just want to better hide from ad trackers.
Last week Mozilla said that its Firefox browser would block third-party trackers for everyone by default and yesterday, it announced a new product that could give users even more privacy on the web.
Just like a regular VPN extension, the Firefox Private Network add-on sets up a secure, encrypted connection through which you can (more) safely browse.
If you use coffee shop wi-fi often, you can get peace of mind using a VPN as it also helps life harder for web snoopers and data hoovers.
If you are connecting to a website that doesn’t use HTTPS secure connections, the Firefox Private Network will make it impossible for other users on the same Wi-Fi network to see what you are doing. The service also disguise your IP address which makes it harder for web tracker to work.
For now the Firefox Private Network extension is free to test, but don’t expect it to stay fully free in the future. Mozilla says public testing will allow it to work out a viable pricing scheme.
For now Firefox Private Network is only available to Firefox users who live in the United States.
Mozilla says Firefox Private Network will be “free for a limited time”, suggesting it may become a paid service in the future which isn’t exactly a surprise.
Last October, Firefox showed an ad for a subscription to ProtonVPN to a small group of Firefox users, suggesting Mozilla may have been gauging interest in offering its own VPN. And Mozilla’s CEO recently said Firefox intends to offer a paid subscription service for “premium” features in October and that bandwidth for a VPN service could be one of them.
While the moves is part of Mozilla recent privacy push, it could also offerthe company some financial wiggle room. In fact, Mozilla makes money through search ad deals, notably with Google, in which it’s paid for sending Firefox users’ search queries to Google. Google shows ads next to the search results, and browser makers including Mozilla often get a cut of the proceeds. Building a VPN for people willing to pay for increased privacy would give Mozilla another way to bring in money.
It’s not clear how long the beta-test will last, or whether the Firefox Private Network will always be free. Mozilla’s press release mentions “several months” in order for beta testers to “give us much-needed feedback to explore technical and possible pricing options.” Nor is there any word on when and if mobile devices will be included.