Opera Software stand at Mobile World Congress 2014
Photograph courtesy of Opera Software

Feature comes on top of baked-in ad-blocking.

By David Meyer
April 21, 2016

The Opera opesy browser last month gained a built-in ad-blocking feature to help set it apart from the pack, and now it has made itself even more distinctive with a free virtual private network (VPN) feature.

VPNs are handy security and privacy tools that route your Internet activities through a distant connection — this can be useful for protecting your browsing while you’re on public Wi-Fi, or accessing region-restricted content from somewhere outside that region.

There are plenty of VPNs out there, and many can plug into your browser to allow easier use, but Opera’s version is baked in from the start. What’s more, it’s free and it offers unlimited data usage.

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It’s available in the latest developer version of Opera, which is out now for testing.

“By adding a free, unlimited VPN directly into the browser, no additional download or extensions from an unknown third-party provider are necessary,” said Opera’s engineering chief, Krystian Kolondra. “So, today, our Opera desktop users get a handy way to boost their online privacy, as well as easier access to all their favorite online content no matter where they are.”

Apart from giving Opera an edge in the browser market, the company’s move is interestingly timed. A consortium of Chinese companies, led by Golden Brick Silk Road Fund Management, is trying to take over the Norwegian firm.

China, of course, has very restrictive Internet censorship, leading many to turn to VPNs in order to freely surf the web.

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Opera’s board has unanimously approved the $1.2 billion takeover bid, which would give Opera greater access to the Chinese market. However, a week ago it emerged that not enough of Opera’s shareholders have given their approval, leading the Chinese consortium to extend the deadline for its offer to May 24.

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