back to article Opera debuts free VPN built into desktop browser

Opera went live today with a VPN embedded into its desktop browser. Described as “free, no-log and easy to use,” the VPN uses 256-bit AES encryption to connect to one of Opera’s five data centres. With this move, Opera gives a fillip to those who need or want their online privacy. It is also a warning shot across the bows of …

  1. Mr Dogshit
    FAIL

    Yeah but

    It's still just a skinned version of Chrome, it's still not as good as Opera 12 so meh

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but

      Yep.

      Opera of old had Opera Turbo, which was basically a VPN but also shrunk images etc. for mobile use.

      Opera of old had mail built-in, which they scrapped

      Opera of old had a multitude of configuration options that are missing.

      Even Vivaldi can't do anything but Chrome-clone and it's annoying me no end after all their promises.

      Chrome-clones are ten-a-penny. Where's the value-add?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah but

      It's WAY better than Opera 12. Opera 12 barely works anymore, it's so antiquated. Basically the modern web is coded or Webkit/Blink. That is the end of it. If you want to be a hipster, crusader that wants to hang on to past glories like being able to edit skin INI files for your browser, and putting toolbars in places that make no sense, carry on...

      Being able to use Opera Android browser, with adblocking, without needing to root, is a godsend.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Yeah but

        Firefox Android was adblocking without root a couple of years ago or more. Nice that Opera's decided it's important enough to do too though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yeah but

          Opera does it properly. EasyList and applicable to all browser windows. Firefox just does tracking, and only in Private Private Browsing sessions.

          Worlds apart.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Yeah but

            I'm talking about uBlock (EasyList or whatever list you want), Bluhell, and similar addons, not Tracking Protection.

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    An interesting move

    It may make people a bit more aware of VPNs. Performance may be an issue - can they build a sufficiently robust network to handle the traffic volume, if no-one gives them any money? Paid-for services aren't that expensive (or don't need to be) - I think I paid about £30 for a 'lifetime' subscription to PureVPN, which seems to be pretty nippy. And some people have specialist needs with a VPN, which will cost money. I need to be able to test sites and google results as they appear from a variety of countries so I need a VPN with good global coverage, which again costs money. I'm also not keen on GCHQ finding out about my interest in wallabies and custard. People wanting to avoid geo-blocking should also be willing to pay (although why the BBC don't just offer licences around the world I really don't know). And presumably terrrrists and kiddy-fiddlers have different specialist requirements, which they will also be happy to pay for.

    1. Jan Hargreaves

      Re: An interesting move

      Thanks for the PureVPN shout - will check that out.

      The BBC don't offer licences around the world because they don't own the content. It's owned by small production companies who licence UK-only use to the BBC.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: An interesting move

        I don't think that applies to all BBC content. For example Dr Who credits say "BBC Cymru" (or is it a separate company?). A more relevant reason could be that BBC licenses the programs it owns to foreign broadcasters and video-on-demand providers, who don't want BBC competing with them directly on their home turf.

        1. Jan Hargreaves

          Re: An interesting move

          Yes, there are exceptions, such as the content they own themselves. However in the case of something like Dr Who, they will licence this to TV companies in other countries for a large amount. Part of that deal will state that they cannot sell that content to anyone else in that region, including streams. It's much easier for them to outsource distribution globally. And Match of the Day - I'm sure the license to show that footage is very strictly UK only, meaning they can't just offer it up to other countries on an international version of iPlayer.

          I can't see this changing any time soon; not until the use of VPN becomes so widely used that the buyers of the content cannot make enough revenue on showing ads on the content if most people will just stream it from source.

        2. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: An interesting move

          I don't think that applies to all BBC content. For example Dr Who credits say "BBC Cymru"

          Sadly most BBC shows these days are not produced like that, starting in the 90s the BBC increasingly outsourced production and show development to 3rd parties (particularly Saint Bob's Hat Trick), who then subsequently owned the format.

          I think for some shows, they do buy the global rights, but then use BBC Worldwide to flog them as effectively as they can. I'm pretty sure GBBO is distributed by BBCW internationally.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: An interesting move

        Just a heads up, I checked out PureVPN in the past but ended up at nVPN (nvpn.net). I find them to be more flexible for experienced computer users. They offer dedicated IPs, port forwarding, and HTTP and SOCKS5 proxies. For all that, I found $60/year to be a reasonable price compared to the other options at hand.

        1. cd

          Re: An interesting move

          Those shopping for a VPN might find this useful...https://thatoneprivacysite.net/

    2. wolfetone

      Re: An interesting move

      "...finding out about my interest in wallabies and custard. "

      Sicko. Wallabies are lactose intollerant.

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    If people really knew how the internet works

    then we wouldn't have self-absorbed publicity whores and trolls, just quality individuals. Like el Reg readers :-)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Impressive!

    I picked up Opera around version 19 or 20 (I think) because I wanted to try something else but I don't trust Google enough to start using Chrome, it's also a matter of principle (a bit). The first start was an instant hit: it could easily import favorites from both Internet Explorer (which I used sporadically) and SeaMonkey (which is still my 2nd browser). Both without any problems.

    A lot of stuff got added over time and I think it's impressive. Take the internal Ad blocker: I tested this against AdBlock pro and it's doing an excellent job! I have several friends who now fully rely on Opera to keep things out. And I noticed something: they're much more open to the idea that Opera might allow a few ads to slip through than an AdBlocker plugin. Simple reasoning really: "They gave us a free browser, so why shouldn't they try to make some money out of that?".

    Not sure I fully agree with that idea (Opera also pushes some of their favorites forward I'm sure) but I do agree that they're really trying to work with their users instead of against them. For example: ever since I started using it (1 - 2 years ago) I've always had (roughly) the same interface. Eventually 1 extra icon appeared in the programs title bar (tab menu) but that's hardly intrusive. I still remember Firefox with its always changing interface (which is also why I stopped using it).

    This VPN feature is just the next step in my opinion. I probably won't be using it myself, but I still think it's an awesome feature. Especially for those who might be in need for free speech options (protection).

    1. wolfetone

      Re: Impressive!

      "I picked up Opera around version 19 or 20 (I think) because I wanted to try something else but I don't trust Google enough to start using Chrome"

      Erm, not sure how to tell you this, but you're still using Chrome.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        not Chrome

        It's "Chromium" - more or less, anyway - and since Google isn't providing it, Opera isn't "phoning home" to Google - probably, and, up until you use Google to search.

        Chrome apparently is a lot more eager to stop working and install an update suddenly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Impressive!

        Erm, not sure how to tell you this, chrome and chromium is not the same thing.

        It's like saying Audi and Volkswagen are the same. There is shared stuff, but built individually.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Impressive!

      Well the browser's been sold to a Chinese consortium so I guess Free Tibet will be looking for another VPN solution.

  5. nhk

    If you're not paying for the product...

    How does a company fund a global VPN network for millions of users other than selling its users data?

    1. Jan Hargreaves

      Re: If you're not paying for the product...

      Bottomless Venture Capital... just ask Soundcloud...

    2. Alumoi

      Re: If you're not paying for the product...

      Naah, they would never sell user data. Browsing habits, on the other hand...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: If you're not paying for the product...

        >Naah, they would never sell user data. Browsing habits, on the other hand...

        Browsing habits is user data, data about users. Users' data', data belonging to users, is jpg of holiday, txt of a to-do list from ten years ago, odf when they toyed with writing a letter, dat of a savegame from a title than hasn't been played since XP, wav when they tested the mic inputs on a then-new soundcard... and possibly even some useful stuff somewhere amongst the zoo of files they have kicking around. :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you're not paying for the product...

      "How does a company fund a global VPN network for millions of users other than selling its users data?"

      errr, are you sure it's "millions" and not "dozens"? This IS Opera we're talking about.

  6. Mandoscottie

    Free VPN facility from a chinese owned browser now...erm thanks but no thanks.

  7. Tom Chiverton 1

    VPN ? Are you *sure* ?

    Last time they announced this, it was actually an SSL-stripping HTML man-in-the-middle proxy...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VPN ? Are you *sure* ?

      Similar to previous "data reduction" efforts on mobile then ? Compression and acceleration, but on ssl you need to trust the mitm.

      Thanks. But no, thanks.

  8. x 7

    just downloaded it, installed it, no sign of a VPN.

    Even worse its using the cache and browser history from my existing installation of Chrome. I dom't want that - browsers should be independent of each other

    1. Keef

      "no sign of a VPN"

      Go to:

      Menu | Settings | Privacy & Security and check the tick-box for Enable VPN.

      You will then see the VPN icon in the omnibox and you can click on it to set a 'location'.

    2. Nick Mallard

      Have you tried reading the readme or anything? The bit that shows you how to enable the VPN option at all, or the bits on installation that ask if you want to import exactly those bits from your existing browser? Obviously not!

  9. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    It's not just a skinned version of Chrome.

    It's a skinned version of Chrome that routes all your data through their VPN that is owned by a Chinese 'security' company

  10. Sporkinum

    was going to try it

    I downloaded it and was going to try it as I hadn't used opera in like 10 years or so. It said it imported my bookmarks, but they were nowhere to be found. I even tried exporting as HTML and then importing them that way. Still no joy. Sent them a note that bookmarks were borked and marked it as one star.

    Never got to try the VPN out. BTW, I use Chrome on my laptop for only one thing. Watching BBC and 4 using the Hola VPN plugin. It only runs while we are watching shows, so the VPN only runs during that hour or two a night. (Laptop docking station connected to TV via displayport to hdmi cable.)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What VPN?

    From the moment I installed it and enabled VPN, all I've seen in the status pane is an amber bang and "VPN is temporarily unavailable. Opera is resolving the problem." I cant set a location, and while I've never connected, I've somehow managed to send 11.5 KB of data? I guess they are all TCP SYN packets. #FAIL

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on...

    Opera were bought out by a Chinese consortium a few months ago.

    Now they're redirecting people's "secure" traffic through their own data centres (in unencrypted form for Opera).

    And people are thinking this is for a VPN for their safety? o_O

    Just ... wow.

    Calling something a "VPN" doesn't make it so.

  13. Sampler

    Shame it doesn't work

    Out of my toolbar bookmarks only this site (without images), BBC News (in mobile version) and my own webservers from my Pi render, every other site is "This site can’t be reached" or "This site can’t provide a secure connection" whilst browsing with the VPN on and set to optimal location.

    C- needs more effort

  14. ecadre

    To those speculating about why the BBC does not offer its programming outsite the UK ... it's got nothing to do with geographical licensing, production companies etc etc etc.

    The BBC operates under a Royal Charter. According to the terms of that Charter the BBC is not allowed to offer licence payer funded services outside of the UK (World Service radio aside, which used to be funded by the Foriegn Office, but funding was offloaded onto the BBC during the last Charter renewal process).

    The BBC can sell its programming at commercial rates to other broadcasters. This is how BBC Worldwide/America etc operate.

    BBC TV and radio are not just another subscription service. They are provided "free to air", in fact the BBC is not allowed to use things like encryption to obfuscate its free to air services.

    Want to change this situation? Look out for the public consultation during the next Charter renewal, but only if you're British (it is after all the British Broadcasting Corporation), and don't put any hopes on the Beeb justing ending up like some kind of Netflix.

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