It's a fact. Our online lives are becoming less private. If you're worried that Facebook and Windows 10 are collecting unprecedented amounts of your data, then you're probably not going to like this.
Would you want to surf the web knowing that the Chinese government was watching your every move?
That fear is growing after the announcement that the Opera web browser has been purchased by a group of Chinese tech companies, including a cyber security firm with a shady reputation.
Norwegian developers created Opera to be a faster, lighter alternative to more prevalent browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. With 350 million users worldwide, Opera is currently the sixth most popular desktop browser and in fourth place on mobile devices.
Privacy and security experts are troubled by at least one of the companies in the new ownership group. Qihoo 360 is China’s top internet and mobile security firm. The company has an unsavory reputation of foul play, fraud and dirty tricks. Its apps have been banned from the iTunes store.
Since your browser is basically the doorway to your digital life, the question of who owns the keys to that door is important. Given the many cyber attacks launched against the U.S. by the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Army, you have to wonder if this takeover is a step towards easier access to your computer, phone and network. Security experts theorize that a widespread DDOS attack, or distributed denial of service, would be very easy to orchestrate by any browser company with bad intentions.
A deal was struck between the two parties back in February with a purchase price of $1.24 billion, but the sale did not get approval from federal regulators in the U.S. Even companies with little or no ties to the United States are still subject to our laws in order to be able to trade here. Insiders believe security concerns were a major part of the holdup.
The two parties re-worked the deal and cut the price in half to an amount equaling $600 million. The new agreement gives the Chinese group Opera's mobile and desktop browsers along with their privacy and performance apps but doesn't include Opera's lucrative advertising, gaming and television platforms.
Would you feel safe and secure surfing the web on a browser owned by the Chinese? We'd like to hear from you in the comments below. In the meantime, if you use Opera and are looking for a new browser, take a look at our full comparison of Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.