Mozilla will start the test of a commercial VPN offering tomorrow for a subset of users in the United States.
The organization has not created its own VPN network but partnered up with the Swiss VPN provider ProtonVPN to use the established network of the provider.
The test starts on October 22, 2018 in the United States for a sample of users of Firefox 62. Only some users who use Firefox 62 in the United States will be invited to participate in the test.
There is no surefire way to be selected for the test as criteria for selection are quite diverse. Users who connect to an Open (unencrypted) wireless network, visit privacy focused websites, or streaming sites, may see the recommendation by Firefox.
The recommendation highlights the basics behind a VPN, that Mozilla selected ProtonVPN as the partner for the test, and the price of the subscription.
The price of the subscription matches the price that users pay for a monthly ProtonVPN subscription when they subscribe directly on the ProtonVPN website.
It is unclear whether Firefox users will have the opportunity to pay yearly to get the $2 per month discount on the monthly price that ProtonVPN offers.
Firefox users should get access to ProtonVPN Plus when they subscribe. Details are a bit scarce but it seems that the subscription gives Firefox users access to a full VPN that they run on the system and not just in the browser.
ProtonVPN's Plus plan can be run on five devices, includes all security features, and gives users access to all countries.
Mozilla analyzed VPN services to find the best suitable partner for the VPN offer in Firefox. The organization selected ProtonVPN for a number of reasons that include (according to Mozilla)
Why a VPN?
Mozilla has two main intentions when it comes to the new offering. First, to add a new revenue stream that is independent of the money that the organization gets from search engine companies like Google.
The affiliate revenue earned from promoting the VPN in Firefox would reduce the stranglehold that search engine companies have on Mozilla. The bulk of Mozilla's revenue comes from deals with search engine companies like Google or Yandex.
The second reason is that VPNs improve user privacy and security on the Internet. VPNs like ProtonVPN include security features that block certain attacks outright and they hide the IP address of the user device.
Critics might say that Mozilla adds advertising to the browser and that is certainly the case if you look at what is happening. Firefox may display recommendations to users to subscribe to a VPN when they perform certain actions in the browser. The choice of ProtonVPN may also be questioned by some.
VPNs do improve privacy and security on the other hand and that is definitely a good thing.
Firefox users can subscribe to the VPN to support Mozilla and get something back in return. Deal details have not been revealed; it is unclear if Mozilla will earn recurring revenue from subscriptions or if the organization gets a one-time payment only.
I think that $10 is quite a high price for a VPN considering that you can get good ones for half or even less the price. It would have been great if Mozilla would have managed to broker a better deal for Firefox users.
Also, I'd like to see contextual recommendations that provide users with clear information on why Mozilla thinks that they should use a VPN.
It would have been ideal, in my opinion, if Mozilla would have created its own VPN network instead. This would cost a lot but it would mean that the bulk of revenue would flow into Mozilla's pockets and would reassure users because of the first-party nature of the service. (via Sören Hentzschel)
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