VPNs have become popular in recent years - whether to make it look like you are in another country or simply to hide your browsing data from prying eyes.
Opal uses VPN technology to block apps and to help you monitor your focus. However, Opal's VPN is safer and more private than most VPNs available on the market - here's why.
Why we care about Privacy
At Opal, we believe everyone deserves control over our time — and our lives (you can read our manifesto here). We also believe in clear and unambiguous rules when it comes to privacy.
From the early days of Opal, we made explicit decisions to respect privacy of our gems. The most important decision was to build a local VPN, that does not use remote servers.
Marcin, from our Engineering team, explains it in-depth:
This information never leaves your device without explicit permission from you.
How traditional VPNs work
Traditional VPNs route your traffic through their own servers, which means you must trust their handling of your data.
If you have a VPN installed on your phone or computer, it likely is a server-side VPN. Most popular VPN providers on the market (such as NordVPN, Surfshark, ExpressVPN or PureVPN), work by routing your traffic through their own servers, which means you need to trust their handling of your data on their servers.
- VPNs work by creating a tunnel for all your internet usage, data passes directly through this tunnel which is hidden from your Internet Service Provider or websites you visit.
- VPNs can sometimes be used to create private internal networks for companies, to make it look like you are in another country or simply to hide your browsing data from prying eyes.
- These conveniences come at a cost - your actual IP address and browsing history are now accessible to the company that provided the VPN service for you because this data is directed through their servers.
- This means when you choose your VPN provider, you must trust their handling of your data on their servers.
Examples of traditional VPNs:
- Private Internet Access VPN
It’s a fragile balance of trust, which you don’t have to worry about when it comes to Opal.
How Opal’s VPN Works
Our VPN is local - meaning it is created directly on your device, information that is sent through the tunnel is not seen by any remote server.
Although Opal uses VPN technology, it's a different kind of technology from most VPNs on the market, in particular on what we can see and how we use that information.
Here is how Opal’s VPN is different from other VPN services available.
- Opal's VPN is Local. This means it is created directly on your device. Information that is sent through the VPN (the tunnel mentioned above) is not seen by any remote server.
- Security. The VPN monitors network traffic (apps and websites you visit) locally, to be able to determine what it should block, gather statistics about how you’re using your device, and to offer insights on how to improve. This information never leaves your device.
- Explicit approval. Your information never leaves your device without explicit permission from you.
Data we collect
This information allows us to keep improving Opal in meaningful ways.
Here are the 3 types of data we do collect:
Data linked to you
Contact information, User Identifiers
This information is used in order to connect your payment information within Opal to an account so that you can use your Opal account across different platforms. We can also use this information to help you restore your upgrade if you delete and reinstall Opal.
We also use this information when you file bug reports with us, this means that we’re able to correspond with you to help you to solve any issues or investigate and fix issues where necessary.
Data not linked to you
Usage Data, Diagnostics
We use this information to help us to improve Opal for all our gems. This information generally includes things such as:
- Crash reports
- Most commonly used features within Opal
- When Opal was installed
- How many times someone has opened Opal
This information allows us to quickly identify and fix issues as well as gives us a high-level overview of what features our gems use and enjoy interacting with. This information allows us to keep improving Opal in meaningful ways.
We only collect data when you explicitly give us access to it.
As mentioned above, we only collect this when you explicitly give us access to it. This may include selecting to include logs while filing a bug report or blocking issues, you can also decline to include this data and all the information inside logs will be redacted.
We only collect information that is absolutely necessary for us to improve Opal and to give you the best experience possible. When you buy a subscription, you can be sure that Opal will continue to improve dramatically over time because of the insights we can gain from the data we collect.