Last week, Mozilla announced that its Firefox browser would block third-party tracking for everyone by default, and yesterday Mozilla announced a new product that could give Firefox users even more privacy: the Firefox private network, which claims to be a "Secure, encrypted network path" – essentially a VPN created by Firefox (though Mozilla never calls it that).
Firefox Private Network seems like it may be useful, but it has its limits. It's browser based VPN, so it won't mask everything you do on the web outside of Firefox – you'll need to install a special VPN application if you want to protect more than internet traffic. Mozilla recommends that you use a private Firefox network if you want to have an encrypted connection while using Firefox on a public Wi-Fi network or just want to hide better from ad tracking devices.
If you want to try out Firefox's private network, which is free but in beta, you'll need to be based in the US using Firefox on your desktop or laptop and log into your Firefox account. If so, install the private Firefox network from this page, click the icon that appears in your toolbar, and a small menu will open where you can turn VPN on or off.
In a short test, I noticed that the download speed was 17 Mbps slower with the switch turned on, but honestly I couldn't understand the difference while browsing. Firefox's private network has changed my IP address, which should prevent third-party tracking; but since it only moves my location to a nearby suburb, sites may still be able to show me local ads. Also, know that if you want to look like you are surfing from somewhere you are not – or just want to watch episodes of Terrace House before they leave the US – you will need to use another VPN service.
Mozilla says Firefox Private Web will be "free for a limited time", suggesting it may become a paid service in the future – which is not a surprise. Last October, Firefox showed a ProtonVPN subscription advertisement to a small group of Firefox users, suggesting that Mozilla might be very interested in offering its own VPN. And recently, Mozilla's CEO said that in October Firefox intends to offer a premium subscription paid service and that the VPN bandwidth may be one of them.
The Firefox Private Network is the first project of a revamped Firefox test pilot program, the program focused on allowing users to test more experimental features like vertical tabs, but Mozilla says the test pilot program will now focus on " new privacy-oriented products "that are" just one step shy of general publicity. " Mozilla has not given directions as to what may come next.