THE MOZILLA FOUNDATION is working on a built-in VPN for its Firefox browser as the company prepares to differentiate its offering in an increasingly Chromium-dominated marketplace.
A hidden page spotted by TechRadar shows an advert for the service, entitled "Firefox Private Network" priced at $12.99/m (how much?!) but clicking the link takes you to a survey page, where it's explained that the service isn't available but that your views are being collected ahead of the launch.
If that sounds familiar, it's the same setup currently being used to trail the company's premium ad-free version, due for release later in the year for five US bucks per month. Both are in an area of the site called firstlook.firefox.com, but we've had a nosey and it seems like for now at least, it's just those two pages populating it.
We asked Mozilla what was going on and they kindly told us: "In 2019, we are continuing to explore new product features and offerings. As part of this, small groups of browser users are invited at random to respond to surveys, provide feedback and potentially test proposed new features, products or services.
"These explorations can easily be identified as they will always include the URL https://firstlook.firefox.
The site blurb explains (for anyone who doesn't know what a VPN is): "If a WiFi connection is free and open to you, it's also free and open to everyone else, including hackers. Firefox Private Network creates a secure, encrypted tunnel to the web to protect your connection and your personal information everywhere you use Firefox."
If you choose to complete the survey, you'll get an option to sign up for email alerts when the new service comes online, which is likely to be in beta later this year.
Of course, Firefox isn't the first browser to offer an onboard VPN - the most notable example being Opera, which has provided an optional free VPN for a couple of years now. The difference is that this one looks to be competing directly with bigger names like NordVPN, without extensions or any of that carry-on.
Indeed Firefox was testing integration with Proton's VPN service a while back but appears to have decided to tread its own path instead.
If $12.99 (about a tenner in Blightycoin) is going to be the price, it'll need to be a pretty feature-rich offering to justify itself - some fully featured VPNs can be found for under three quid a month if you pay for a year upfront. There are also loads of free ones, but aside from Opera's, you can pretty much avoid them with a big bargepole. μ
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