You may not have given the Opera browser a second look before, but you may want to soon if you care about your online privacy. They’ve just bought a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider.
Making your browser stand out — particular when you build it on top of the same codebase as Google Chrome — isn’t an easy task. It’s sort of like making a smartphone stand out, and you can ask HTC what that takes in 2015.
But like HTC and their “Uh Oh Protection,” Opera may have found their angle: privacy. The company they acquired is Canada’s SurfEasy. Currently, they develop VPN apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and they also make a secure browser-on-a-stick.
Over the past year, SurfEasy’s business has been booming. They’ve added more than 6 million customers to their zero-logging service in the last twelve months, thanks in part to Edward Snowden’s revelations about the state of online surveillance.
There’s another big reason they’re picking up customers in droves. SurfEasy also tears down geographical content barriers. Loads of non-Americans are using SurfEasy to connect to services like Hulu and Netflix. Adding “VPN in a tab” to Opera would be pretty amazing, but beefed-up private browsing and the built-in ability to unlock geo-restricted content would make Opera avery attractive app to a lot of surfers.
For the time being, Opera has no plans to shut down SurfEasy’s existing services. They’ll be left alone while Opera and SurfEasy figure out how they’re going to meld their products. One approach: making the VPN mode work like the data-saving Opera Max does.
All users need to know about Max is that flipping the switch helps them avoid burning through their data allowance. A similar switch for privacy — and unrestricted access — would be awesome.