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Santa's sack is bulging with browsers: Vivaldi 5.0 arrives full of festive cheer

Keeping one's privates private

"I don't think we have any business with collecting information about what people are doing," Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner told The Register as its eponymous browser pushed out a major version update today.

The latest increment includes new themes and translations, although we put it to von Tetzchner that perhaps there wasn't an awful lot in the there to justify the jump to version 5. As one would expect, he disagreed.

"If you look at the desktop side," he said, "let's start with the translate panel… we have our own translation hardware, which we are hosting in Iceland. I think that's a big deal."

The service is powered by Lingvanex and permits the translation of selected text or entire web pages.

Unlike certain other tech companies that might make use of data harvested during the translation process, "we are not interested in collecting your data," said Von Tetzchner, "we are not utilising your data; we just throw it away, basically."

"We're not building profiles on our users, which we then share with someone else," he said.

Whoever could he mean?

"We think that should be banned," he went on. "I don't think any company should be doing this. I just think it's spyware. It's looking at what people are doing, and I don't think we have any business with collecting information about what people are doing."

Other updates in version 5 include editable and shareable themes, and von Tetzchner highlighted the ability of the browser to take cues from the host operating system, or go as far as working with a home lighting system, such as the Philips Hue. As well as the ability to download presets, users can fiddle with a theme themselves and then share it.

While an iOS port remains missing for the time being, Android users get to join in the fun with two level tab stacks for those users that just can't have enough pages open on their mobile browser. An evolution of what is already on the desktop, the second row of tabs stay hidden until required.

The browser has also been updated for Android tablet users, with a desktop-like panel interface to maximise the display space.

Vivaldi is known for both its (occasionally bewildering) array of customisation options as well as its obsession with privacy. And Von Tetzchner did not hold back when talking about the competition. Of Google's controversial FLoC, he said: "They're calling it privacy, and it's rather the opposite."

"I think we just need to look at the fact that we've gone way too far with regards to the collection of information as an industry. I don't know where this went wrong. I mean, I just feel that some of our competitors are not doing the right thing, to put it mildly," Von Tetzchner told us.

"Because I'm rather upset about this… I've spent most of my working life building browsers and kind of being part of building the internet. This kind of idea of being a big surveillance system; that was never in my mind or in our minds. And it shouldn't be done."

Vivaldi 5.0 is available now. ®

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