Opera has launched the first mainstream browser to incorporate a VPN. The browser exited beta today and marks a significant line in the sand for privacy-keen surfers.
"Everyone deserves to be private online if they want to be. By adding a free, unlimited VPN directly into the browser, no additional download or extensions from an unknown third-party provider are necessary," said Krystian Kolondra, SVP at Opera.
"So, today, our Opera desktop users get a handy way to boost their online privacy, as well as easier access to all their favourite online content, no matter where they are.”
The move will be controversial for some, and banned sites like The Pirate Bay were unblocked out of the box in our tests.
The VPN works in the same way as add-on paid solutions, blocking your IP address, unblocking sites, and protecting your identity. The company has been working towards this moment for some time, declaring as far back as Opera 32 that VPN was "a universal right".
Krystian Kolandra, Opera's head of browsers for computers, told the INQUIRER that, while no single event triggered the decision for Opera to go in this direction, it was a response to growing interest and demand.
The company is in the midst of a takeover by a Chinese consortium, ironically as China is one of the most restrictive internet environments in the world.
However, Kolandra told us: "The acquisition offer is still in process and has not yet been finalised. In the meantime, we continue operating Opera business as usual, and our usual business is giving users the best internet experience. Web users are demanding more privacy online and improved access to content, and we want to give it to them."
We wondered whether using a VPN makes you more prone to unwanted advances from authorities keen to see what you're hiding, but Kolandra debunked this.
"Absolutely not. Using VPN is mainstream today, with more than 350 million people having tried VPNs. By bringing it to the browser, users will benefit from a free, easy to use option."
So, with the rise of the ad blocker, is the baked-in VPN the next big thing in browsers?
Kolandra thinks it could be. "Opera has a long history of creating innovations that spread to other browsers, such as tabs and Speed Dial. We are pleased to make a stand as the first browser to integrate a VPN, but with user demand for privacy and content we would not be surprised to see VPNs baked into other browsers soon."
Opera, complete with VPN, can be downloaded now from opera.com. µ
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