- Jul 27, 2015
Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Anna Eshoo are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against abusive and deceptive practices in the VPN industry. They note that many Americans benefit from the increased privacy and security that VPNs offer, but some VPN providers can overpromise or be dishonest with their subscribers.
VPNs are valuable tools for people who want to use the Internet securely with decent privacy. They are vital for whistleblowers and people who rebel against Government oppression. VPNs have recently become a sensitive topic in United States mainstream media. U.S. anti-abortion laws have increased the interest in privacy services as potential criminal penalties come into play. One of the problems, however, is that not all VPN services take privacy seriously. This isn’t a new revelation. At TorrentFreak, we first highlighted this issue more than a decade ago. This revealed that the privacy policies at some VPN services were rather weak. Things become even more problematic when VPN providers say one thing and do another.
There is currently little regulation in the VPN industry, prompting Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Anna Eshoo to sound the alarm bell. In a letter, sent last week, they urge FTC chair Lina Khan to take action. “We write to urge you to use your authority to take enforcement actions against the problematic actors in the consumer Virtual Private Network (VPN) industry, focusing particularly on those that engage in deceptive advertising and data collection practices,” the letter reads. “The VPN industry is extremely opaque, and many VPN providers exploit, mislead, and take advantage of unwitting consumers,” the lawmakers add.
Problems in the VPN industry have been highlighted in several reports and studies already. They are often the result of heavy competition. Many VPNs have the best interests of consumers in mind but others are simply interested in making profits. This can lead to shady VPNs collecting and selling user data or promising not to log personal data but simultaneously handing ‘logged’ data over to the authorities.
VPN review sites are also put in the spotlight. These reviews often include affiliate links, which could lead to bias. That also applies to some of the bigger review sites that are owned by VPN companies. Senator Wyden and Representative Eshoo are not against VPN use. On the contrary, they believe it can be vital. However, the FTC should step in to remove the bad apples, where possible. Making people aware of the potential benefits and risks could also be helpful.
Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Anna Eshoo are urging the FTC to take action against abusive and deceptive practices in the VPN industry.