Firefox is testing a VPN, you can try it now
Last week, Mozilla said its Firefox browser would block third-party trackers for everyone by default, and yesterday Mozilla announced a new product that could give Firefox users more privacy on the web: Firefox Private Network, which it claims is “secure,” an encrypted path to the web. Essentially, a VPN made by Firefox (although Mozilla never calls it one).
Firefox Private Network may be useful, but it has its limitations. It’s a browser-based VPN, so it won’t hide anything you do on the internet outside of Firefox – you’ll need to install a dedicated VPN app if you want to protect more of your internet traffic. Mozilla recommends Firefox Private Network if you want to have an encrypted connection while using Firefox on public Wi-Fi or if you just want to hide better from ad trackers.
If you want to try Firefox Private Network, which is free, but in a trial phase, you must be based in the US, using Firefox on your desktop or laptop, and logged into your Firefox account. If you are, install Firefox Private Network from this page, click the icon that appears in your toolbar, and a small drop-down menu will appear where you can turn the VPN on or off.
In a short test, I noticed the download speed was 17Mbps slower with the switch turned, but honestly I couldn’t tell the difference while browsing. Firefox Private Network has changed my IP address, which should block third-party trackers; But since it only moved my site to a nearby suburb, the sites might still be able to serve me local ads. Also know that if you want to show up to browse from somewhere you’re not – or just want to watch Terrace House episodes before they air in the US – you’ll need to use another VPN service.
Mozilla says Firefox Private Network will be “free for a limited time,” which suggests that it may become a paid service in the future — which isn’t entirely a surprise. Last October, Firefox showed an ad to sign up for ProtonVPN to a small group of Firefox users, suggesting that Mozilla may have been interested in offering its VPN. The Mozilla CEO recently said that Firefox plans to offer a paid subscription service for “premium” features in October, and the VPN service’s bandwidth could be one such feature.
Firefox Private Network is the first Test Pilot project that has been activated in Firefox. The program used to focus on letting users try out more experimental features like vertical tabs, but Mozilla says the Test Pilot will now focus on “new privacy-focused products” that are “just one step shy of the public release.” Mozilla has not given any indication of what might happen next.