Opera buys VPN service to help protect user privacy

Acquiring SurfEasy will help protect the privacy of Opera's 350 million users, the company said

Norwegian browser developer Opera Software has bought virtual private network service SurfEasy to help its users protect their privacy when accessing the Web from smartphones, tablets and computers.

The acquisition of the Canadian company also appears to be the latest in the company's strategy to expand into other products beyond the browser.

SurfEasy offers applications to encrypt Internet traffic on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices as well as a password-protected USB plug-in that lets users browse securely from any computer or network, without leaving a trace.

Opera bought SurfEasy because Internet users are increasingly looking for ways to securely access the Internet, the company said in a release announcing the deal. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is expected to lead to the joint development of new products.

Opera has about 350 million users and is mainly known for its Web browsers for PCs and smartphones. But more recently it has been looking to expand into other lines of business, including Opera Mediaworks a mobile advertising platform, while providing services for operators. It also developed a platform for Internet TVs.

Adding SurfEasy to Opera's portfolio will be a critical building block towards a broader collection of applications, the company said.

An Opera spokeswoman declined to say what products might be developed as a result of the deal. SurfEasy products will currently remain unchanged, she wrote in an email.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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