Last week, Mozilla said its Firefox browser would start blocking third-party trackers by default. Already last Tuesday it announced a new product that could give Firefox users even more privacy on the web: the Firefox Private Network, which claims to be “a secure, encrypted path to the web” – essentially, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) built into the browser.
The browser’s private network, according to The Verge, can be useful, but it has limits. Because it’s a VPN, it doesn’t hide anything you’re doing on the internet outside of Firefox, which means you’d need a dedicated VPN app if you want to fully protect your online traffic. Mozilla recommends using its service if you want to have an encrypted connection while using Firefox on public Wi-Fi, or just want to hide better from ad trackers.ADVERTISING
For now, the service is in an experimental phase, available only in the United States, for those using Firefox on their desktop or laptop and signed in to a Mozilla account. If you meet these criteria, click on the icon that appears on the toolbar and a small menu will appear where you can activate or deactivate the VPN.
In a brief test, The Verge noticed that the download speed was 17 Mbps slower with the switch turned on, but for online browsing, it was not possible to notice that much difference. Firefox’s private network changed the IP used, which should prevent third-party trackers, but since it only changed its location to a nearby suburb, perhaps sites could still display local ads.
Mozilla says that Firefox’s private network will be “free for a limited time”, suggesting that it could become a paid service in the future. In October of last year, Firefox displayed a ProtonVPN subscription ad to a small group of users, suggesting that Mozilla may be weighing interest in offering its own VPN. Mozilla’s CEO recently said that he intends to offer a paid subscription service for “premium” features in October and that bandwidth for a VPN service could be one of them.
The Firefox Private Network is the first project in Firefox’s revitalized Test Pilot program. The program used to focus on letting users try out beta features, but Mozilla says the Test Pilot program will now be focused on “new privacy-centric products” that are “just one step behind the general public.”