Mozilla is an advocate of privacy. And this is can be seen in its approach when developing new features on the Mozilla web browser.
This time, it's officially introducing back its Firefox Test Pilot program, which allows users to try out new features before they are ready for mainstream usage. While the name is familiar, the overall goals of this program are a bit different from the last iteration.
And here, Mozilla introduces Firefox Private Network VPN service. Initially available in beta and to desktop users in the U.S., the feature showcases how Mozilla wants Firefox in becoming more of a privacy-centric product.
Citing “strong privacy controls” that limit data collection and retention, Firefox's VPN thereby anonymize users' true location and protect their data from prying eyes.
And that being said, the VPN adds another layer of security, which is just like any other VPN services, Firefox Private Network VPN will encrypt all users' web traffic through a collection of remote proxy servers, that are provided by web infrastructure and security company Cloudflare.
According to Mozilla’s Marissa Wood, in her blog post:
But it should be noted that Firefox Private Network isn’t so much about trying to circumvent geographic restrictions.
Instead, it focuses on giving users access to a private network to help them hide their locations from website and ad trackers when using Wi-Fi connection.
In other words, it's not entirely clear what benefits Firefox Private Network can bring to the table if compared to more established VPNs in the market.
This is one of the reasons why Mozilla doesn’t refer Firefox Private Network as a true 'VPN'.
Initially, Firefox Private Network is available for free. There are however, some hints suggesting that Mozilla will eventually charge the service for a free.
Mozilla primarily makes money off Google being the default search engine on Firefox.
But after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mozilla has started seeking out more ways for revenues, which included the limited partnership with ProtonVPN, and roll out privacy-focused tools and products.
And because Firefox Private Network isn't really a VPN that allows uses to bypass geographic restriction, the question that remains is how the organization is going to charge for it.
This is by considering competitor like Opera is already offering a similar built-in free VPN service for quite a while now, which includes the ability to set location to either the Americas, Europe or Asia..
But still, at least initially, Firefox Private Network is certainly an upgrade in privacy.
Nevertheless, Mozilla in bringing back its Firefox Test Pilot program is less about giving users the opportunity to test some of the Firefox team’s more eccentric ideas, and more like a traditional public beta test program.
And Firefox Private Network, is just one good example for this approach, as it allows Mozilla to fine-tune the product it a bit more before its public release.