The Privacy-Centric Browser Draws Mixed Reactions for Unannounced VPN Feature
The Brave Browser, renowned for its privacy-centric approach, has discreetly embedded a VPN service into its desktop version, catching some users off guard. This unanticipated move was first noticed when users found VPN services installed on their Windows machines without prior consent.
Brave’s new feature, dubbed Brave Firewall + VPN, is an additional service that users can subscribe to for a monthly fee. This collaboration between Brave Software and Guardian aims to provide an extra layer of protection and privacy for its users, supplementing the browser’s existing security features.
The VPN services were silently incorporated from version 1.57.47 onwards, but only for users with admin privileges. This feature is particularly aimed at enhancing user privacy but has raised eyebrows due to the lack of prior notification to users.
Although the services are installed, they are set to a manual start, ensuring they won’t activate unless initiated by the user. This implies that users won’t be inadvertently connected to the VPN without their awareness. Moreover, it’s highlighted that no data is relayed to Brave from the VPN services, maintaining a level of user privacy.
This initiative aligns with a broader industry trend, where browser developers are integrating VPN services to bolster user privacy and security. For instance, Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, partnered with Mullvad to launch Mozilla VPN in 2020.
In the wake of this discovery, users can check whether the VPN services are installed on their devices and have the option to disable or delete them if desired. The steps to verify the installation of Brave VPN services are straightforward and can be performed from the Windows Services manager.
This discreet addition of VPN services highlights a delicate balance between enhancing user privacy and maintaining transparency. The mixed reactions from the Brave user community underscore the importance of clear communication, especially when introducing features that significantly impact user privacy and system configurations.
The move by Brave Software does raise the quintessential debate on user consent in the evolving digital landscape, especially when it comes to privacy-focused platforms. As the VPN service expands across platforms, it remains to be seen how Brave and other browser developers navigate user consent and transparency while introducing new features aimed at bolstering user privacy and security.
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