Firefox… The mention of that name brings to mind the popular web browser, both on the desktop and on mobile devices.
Now, on top of the many other products and services it is known for, Mozilla’s flagship brand is adding yet another feather to its hat: a virtual private network (VPN) service.
At a time when internet users are becoming more and more conscious of their privacy online, the need to use VPNs is increasing for many. Not just for that, but also for bypassing the many geo-restrictions in place that are the bane of many an internet user in Africa.
To this end, Mozilla has been working on a VPN service for a while.
Now, that VPN service has a ready Android app that is ready for a spin.
Interestingly, the app is limited to users of the Google Play Store located in the United States and those of us in countries like Kenya will have to rely on third-party app stores and repositories in order to access an application package we can sideload
Even then, since the service is still in testing, prospective users have to put up with a long waiting list.
Firefox Private Network (FPN), as the new VPN service is known as, will allow users to connect up to 5 devices from a single account. It has servers in 39 countries to guarantee users sufficient options for routing their internet traffic. It also guarantees users device-level encryption to mask location and user activity even on unsecured network connections.
Given that Mozilla is asking for about Kshs 500 every month (yes, FPN is not free), users are also being promised zero-logging activity.
This is a departure from the approach taken by competitors in the web browser space like Opera that have built VPN features into their browsers (mobile and desktop) and offer them for free. Opera even killed its own standalone VPN application.
A “free” version of FPN, that offers browser-level protection (by encrypting sites one visits on their Firefox browser), exists as a browser extension that can be used for 12 hours every month.
The release and availability of the Android app follow the release of the Windows 10 app late last year.