At a time when the big tech companies are under fire for their data collection practices and user tracking, web browser maker Opera continues to stress its stance on data privacy.
“We are a Norwegian company, and we operate under Norwegian law. And this puts really strict rules, which means that your data is private and there’s actually no reason for us to collect anything,” Maciej Kocemba, Product Director at Opera told indianexpress.com over a video call. He went on to explain that the company does not collect any user data, though Opera encourages consumers to send some information about their feature usage to improve the product.
The comments come at a time when hackers are increasingly using popular web browsers to spy on users. This June, cybersecurity firm Awake Security found hackers used Chrome extensions and other malicious tools to spy on users in sectors such as oil and gas, entertainment, finance and health care.
Kocemba called privacy and security “a complex” topic. “Good browsing shouldn’t be through means of extensions,” he said. “The question is, do you know where they come from? Do you know what the law is for extensions? Do you know who to ask about the extension? Do you know what an extension does?”
A web browser extension is a plug-in for your browser; it could be an ad-blocker or a download manager. “The most frightening thing is that very often those extensions ask access to all the pages and every single thing you see on the screen, the extension sees as well. So it means the ad-blocker that you have downloaded, sees your bank account, your ad-blocker sees your Gmail account,” Kocemba explained.
Kocemba says the desktop version of Opera browser is privacy-friendly because it gives you the freedom to switch on both ad-blocker and tracker-blocker, which helps users feel private and secure on the web. The browser also includes a VPN that means users are not required to download a free VPN from outside. The Opera browser also comes with an additional extension to make a snapshot of the web page. This might seem like no big deal, but is more secure and private.
Google’s Chrome continues to be the most popular web browser across desktops and mobiles in the market.“We believe they (users) will be much better off with Opera with so many good features that are inside, the speed and performance and with ease of use. We think they will be much better off with Opera,” said Kocemba.
The early browser wars were predominantly fought on desktops, but now the fight is to become dominant on smartphones. Opera admits India is an important market and the focus is clearly on the web browsers for a smartphone. However, at the same time, Opera is also making sure that more users in India download its web browser for desktops. The company recently added new sync and sharing features to its desktop and Android apps.
While Opera declined to reveal India specific numbers, it did say the company has seen tremendous growth in the last six months in the country. Opera currently has 380 million monthly active users, over 200 million of them on smartphones.
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