Vivaldi: A Privacy-Friendly Social Network Opens For Business

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Co-founder of Opera Software Jon von Tetzchner unveils his latest project in Iceland

A team of former Opera Software engineers has quietly launched Vivaldi, a social network with a focus on privacy.

The free service operates from Iceland, offering email, photo galleries, instant messenger, blogs and forums. It promises not to track its users, read their messages or supply information to government agencies.

Vivaldi was originally meant to replace Opera’s own social network, My Opera, which has several million users but is due to close on 1 March. It is primarily aimed at technology enthusiasts, since they are usually more aware of data privacy issues.

“As a society I feel that we should be more focused on limiting the massive surveillance we all are under from governments and from companies that use people’s private information for advertising purposes,” Vivaldi founder (and former Opera CEO) Jon von Tetzchner told Reuters.

We come from the land of the ice and snow

Vivaldi is protected with encryption, and unlike Facebook or Google+, it does not scan the contents of private messages to deliver tailored advertising.

von TietzenThe start-up behind the network is based in Iceland – a country with a long tradition of freedom of speech and data protection. Due to its cold climate and the abundance of renewable energy sources, it is also one of the best places on the planet to operate a data centre.

Vivaldi is the brainchild of von Tetzchner, co-founder of the small but resilient browser developer Opera Software, which he left in 2011 due to disagreements with the directors. The new social network was launched just as the Norwegian company began shutting down the very similar My Opera service. Vivaldi has introduced a simple migration process, hoping to lure My Opera users before the March deadline.

“For me, as a co-founder of Opera, I cannot just see the community we built together being ignored and stranded like this,” wrote von Tetzchner on the Vivaldi blog. “Therefore, some of us got together and created a place for our community, our friends, once again.

As you can see, it’s still very much a work in progress. Things have happened very quickly and we have tried to be quick as well. We wanted to share this with you as soon as possible and let you all know that there will still be a place for us.”

Tetzchner said that he couldn’t guarantee that organisations like the NSA wouldn’t be able to access the platform, but he assured that Vivaldi is safer than the alternatives.

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