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Opera brings its free VPN service to iOS with a new app, Opera VPN

TechCrunch TechCrunch 9/05/2016 Sarah Perez

Following the launch of a built-in VPN service in its web browser last month, Opera this morning debuted a free and unlimited mobile VPN app for iOS devices. Called Opera VPN, the app is designed to protect users’ privacy – it removes ad blockers, for example – but it’s also marketed towards those who want a way to work around restricted internet access, such on networks managed by I.T. departments at workplaces and in schools.

After installing and opening the app on your mobile device, it will remove ad-tracking cookies – those that follow you around the web, in order to serve up personalized advertising and share your data with advertisers and marketers.

Opera also explains that the app allows users to encrypt their local web traffic, for further privacy protection.

The VPN service is made possible by way of SurfEasy, a company Opera acquired last year. This is what Opera is already using to power its browser-based VPN, which is still in testing. (It’s in the developer version of the browser.)

That acquisition came at an opportune time for Opera, as people are increasingly concerned about government surveillance of their internet activity.

In addition, web users today don’t want to have their access to the internet controlled by outside entities, like corporate I.T., especially when they’re using a personal device, like their iPhone.

“Every day, millions of people, from students to working people, find that social-media sites like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are blocked when they surf on their campus or workplace Wi-Fi. The same goes for video-streaming sites,”Chris Houston, President of Surfeasy, Opera’s VPN division, in an announcement released this morning. “With the new Opera VPN app, we help people to break down the barriers of the web and enjoy the internet like it should be,” he added.

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The VPN app, at launch, lets you choose from one of five countries: the U.S., Canada, Germany, Singapore and The Netherlands. It’s also available in several languages, including English, Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

The app will compete with a good handful of free VPN services available on iOS today. However, many of those apps are in the business of tracking consumers’ mobile usage as part of a larger business involving the sale of app analytics data. Many competing are also not free, which is another advantage for Opera’s app.

Opera’s iOS app is available as a free download here on the iTunes App Store. 

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