(+) Bitcoin VPN: Opera Browser Is Quietly Assaulting A Key Crypto-Accepting Industry

Journalist:
P. H. Madore @bitillionaire
March 19, 2019

People use virtual private networks for a variety of reasons, privacy chief among them. A virtual private network is a good way to mask your location to websites you visit. For people in countries where governments censor content and content providers – including companies like Google and Facebook – must comply with their demands, a VPN is essential to experience the actual internet.

Crypto and VPNs: A Harmonious Relationship

VPNs have long been an industry that favors Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Respect for privacy is a core aspect of the VPN business model. The list of VPN companies that accept cryptocurrency is long. Private Internet Access, one of the first VPN companies to accept Bitcoin, supports a number of Bitcoin companies and projects.

For example, using a site like XMR.to, one can send Bitcoin via Monero completely anonymously. Some VPNs allow you to have an account with giving them any private information. Others have a commitment to protecting your privacy at all costs. Some don’t even keep logs of traffic, so they have nothing to turn over to authorities who might inquire. Paying VPNs with cryptocurrencies means that they don’t have to actually verify your identity. Just your e-mail address.

However, for the last couple of years, the VPN industry has been under a quiet usurpation by one of the world’s oldest browsers, Opera. Opera’s desktop browser has had a built-in, free VPN for some time. You don’t have to create an account to use Opera or the Opera VPN. You also don’t have to pay anything for ti. It’s hard to compete with free.

Opera Expands Free Service to Mobile

Now, Opera’s VPN is moving to mobile. Mobile was one of the frontiers where regular VPN companies could still dominate. Companies like ExpressVPN have simple apps that allow you to turn on or off your VPN.

Currently, you still have to install the beta version of Opera mobile to use the free VPN. But added to the other features of Opera Mobile – like its built-in crypto wallet – you’ve got a powerful alternative in the making.

Of course, there are still plenty of reasons to need a full stack service. Especially on mobile, there are apps you may need privacy when connecting to. For the safety conscious out there, a virtual private network is, for example, a way to mask your location when using a dating app. You can talk to all the crazies you want – they won’t know where to find you until you tell them.

Opera VPN Ideal for Occasional Users

But, in this reporter’s case, the ExpressVPN subscription was only helpful about 10% of the time. He just wants to access some foreign sites that block US IP addresses, or sometimes it’s helpful when doing research. The cost of most VPNs is fairly reasonable. For some people, a high-quality, paid service is always going to be the way. Paying for a VPN with cryptocurrency is a good way to protect your privacy all the way around.

An example of a way to use a VPN with complete privacy and cryptocurrency: sign up for a Tutanota or Protonmail account (or another privacy-respecting e-mail provider) and pay for it with cryptocurrency. Then use that e-mail to register for your VPN. If you live in a country where it’s illegal to access certain US websites like Facebook, for example, you have plausible deniability – can they prove that’s your e-mail address, and that you sent that cryptocurrency? This is assuming they manage to get the VPN to tell on you. Using one that has a no-logging policy is a good way to ensure that’s not even possible.

The Internet is meant to enable the freedom to exchange information. Cryptocurrency creates the freedom to use money in the same way. Using both privately gets you to the next level. So, while there are a lot of VPNs that accept Bitcoin, there are also some that accept Monero. Or, as stated earlier in the article, the absolute safest way to pay such a Bitcoin merchant is to use XMR.to or a similar service – you send monero, the merchant receives bitcoins.

Last modified (UTC): October 7, 2019 07:47

P. H. Madore @bitillionaire

P. H. Madore has written for CCN since 2014. Please send breaking news tips or requests for investigation to bitillionaire+phm@gmail.com. He lives in Maine, USA. A single father of four young children, he does not discourage financial donations, provided they do not come with strings attached.