Browser-branded VPNs

I guess that when Apple, Google and Microsoft are giving away their browsers it makes sense for 3rd-party browsers to look wherever possible for revenue streams.

A few weeks ago Firefox introduced its own VPN, actually a rebranding of the highly-regarded Mullvad VPN. Same$4.99/€5 price as Mullvad though.

And today Brave announced its own VPN, for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, for up to 5 devices, available as an IAP, and built into its iPhone/iPad browsers too.

It’s powered by Guardian, which I’m not familiar with, but they apparently made a splash a year ago as a privacy firewall-VPN which routes all the network connections from your iPhone or iPad through their VPN, then filters trackers on Guardian’s servers. Gruber approvingly wrote about Guardian last year, and Glenn Fleishman (MacWorld, TidBits, various podcasts) wrote about them for a FAST COMPANY article.

Neither service is cheap - a couple of years ago I grabbed a $90 deal for three years of PrivateInternetAccess (which I’ll give a B+ to), but the idea of stripping out trackers could be really interesting if it includes trackers in emails.

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I signed up for McAfee one morning when I was half asleep. (I cannot be held responsible for anything I do when I’m semi-comatose). I was not thrilled. For about $58 per year it scans, has a password manager and has a VPN that doesn’t interfere with the Disney channel. I inadvertently found all that out a couple months into it. Tech support is great once you get a hold of a real person. I had been paying $10 per month for VPN. So I merrily cancelled all that. The VPN is steady and never gives me problems. Also, that creep McAfee is no longer associated with the company baring (?) his name.

As it stands, I’ll get it next year as well.

At least in the case of these 2 browsers, a VPN makes complete sense with they’re stated goals. Both say they strive to maintain and foster an open, privacy preserving web.

For email, it doesn’t always work, but I recommend turning off remote content (not all email clients support this) but that prevents trackers (and any images) in an email from being loaded. No VPN required.

Yes, and browsing with images off is an amazingly speedy experience too!

But I’ve tried reading mail with images off and I just miss too much.

I do use several ad/tracker blockers simultaneously on my Mac (ranging from multiple browser extensions in Brave to knocking outbound visits to known analytics domains via Little Snitch), but I don’t have that ability with iOS because the iOS ‘VPN’ I use is actually a systemwide ad-blocker that blocks ads throughout iOS including inside apps; it’s a tradeoff.

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If you don’t need a VPN, NextDNS is pretty good for blocking trackers/ads.