How to Use Firefox Private Network to Encrypt Your Web Traffic

Mozilla this week began piloting its own browser-based VPN service, and if you're located in the U.S. you can start testing it for free right away.

Called the Firefox Private Network, the service promises Firefox users a more secure, encrypted path to the web that prevents eavesdroppers from spying on your browsing activity and hides your location from websites and ad trackers.

In that respect, it won't protect any internet traffic outside of your web browser, but it's a good option if you want to use an encrypted connection on the fly when you're using Firefox on a public Wi-Fi network, for example.


As a time-limited beta, the Firefox Private Network is currently free to try, although this does suggest it may become a paid service in the future. You also need to be a U.S. resident logged into your Firefox account using Firefox desktop browser.

If you can fulfill those pre-requisites, you can install the private network by navigating to this page, clicking the blue + Add to Firefox button, then granting permission for the network to be added to the browser.


Click the door hanger icon that appears at the top-right corner of the toolbar, and you'll see a switch that you can use to toggle the VPN on and off. A green tick in the icon indicates the secure network is active and your browsing activity is being encrypted.

Opera browser offers a similar free VPN service that cloaks your web browsing, but with the added benefit that it lets you choose the continent that you want your connection to reside. So if you're looking to access a location-restricted service (Netflix, say) from abroad, you might have better luck using it instead.


This article, "How to Use Firefox Private Network to Encrypt Your Web Traffic" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Opera VPN iOS App Will Be Permanently Discontinued at the End of April

Just under two years after launching on the iOS App Store, Opera this week announced that its free "Opera VPN" app will be permanently discontinued as of April 30, 2018. Opera's virtual private network app masks the user's true IP address and allows them to bypass firewalls, block tracking cookies, change their virtual location to unlock geo-specific content, and more.

At the end of April, the app will be shuttered on both the iOS and Android App Stores, but the company noted that it aims to "make sure your privacy is still looked after" following Opera VPN's discontinuation. This mainly refers to users who were paying for Opera Gold on mobile, which introduced a Tracker Blocker, 10 additional regions, increased speeds, and dedicated customer support for $29.99/year.


These subscribers will have the option to redeem a free one year subscription to SurfEasy's Ultra VPN and migrate all of their data from Opera to SurfEasy, a company that Opera acquired in 2016. Even those who don't have an Opera Gold plan will have the chance to obtain an 80 percent discount on SurfEasy's entry level Total VPN tier. In terms of pricing, SurfEasy's Ultra plan is currently priced at $6.49/month and the Total plan is $3.99/month.
This is a free upgrade for Opera Gold users, as SurfEasy Ultra offers unlimited usage on up to five devices, access to 28 regions and a strict no-log policy. SurfEasy is also available on more platforms, currently supporting Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Amazon devices. Users will be able to enjoy world-class customer support, too. Opera Gold users will be able to migrate within the latest version of the Opera VPN iOS app.
In regards to the closure, Opera said: "All of us here at Opera VPN (including Olaf) are sincerely grateful for all your support over the last couple of years, and we're sorry for any inconvenience this may cause." Opera will still have its main web browser available for Mac users, including a built-in ad blocker and VPN.


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U.S. Senators Ask Apple Why VPN Apps Were Removed From China App Store

Two U.S. senators have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company removed third-party VPN apps from its App Store in China (via CNBC). Reports that Apple had pulled the VPN apps first arrived in July, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.

In the open letter dated October 17, Senators Patrick Leahy and Ted Cruz write that China has an "abysmal" human rights record when it comes to freedom of expression and free access to online and offline information, and say they are "concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance of the internet".

Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas, left) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
"While Apple's many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the internet privately does not enable people in China to 'speak up'."

"To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese government it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China's new regulations targeting online anonymity."
The senators go on to note that Cook was awarded the free speech award at Newseum's 2017 Free Expression Awards, where he said: "First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves."

In the bipartisan request, the senators then ask Cook to explain Apple's actions by answering a list of questions, including whether Apple was personally asked to remove the VPN apps by Chinese officials, and if the company expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities before the country's anti-freedom laws were enacted.

In addition, the senators question what Apple has done to promote free speech in China and whether it has pushed for human rights and better treatment of oppressed groups in the country.

During an earnings call, Cook spoke about his decision to remove the VPN apps. "We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business." Cook went on to say that he hopes China will ease up on the restrictions over time.

Apple has yet to respond to the letter.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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