Hot Take VPN privacy: more than 70% of providers are breaching GDPR

vtqhtr413

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VPN services have increasingly become an essential tool for securing your online privacy during everyday browsing. Short for virtual private network, it's a versatile software that spoofs your IP address and encrypts the data leaving a device. However, the level of protection offered differs significantly from provider to provider. That's why researchers at PrivacyTutor examined 144 services to understand how serious these companies actually are about the privacy of their users. The findings paint a pretty grim picture across the industry considering that, among other things, over two-thirds of the providers analyzed currently violate GDPR provisions.

"If VPN providers use cookie-based tracking and web analysis services such as Google Analytics, this is only permitted with prior express and voluntary user consent according to Section 25 (1) TTDSG," attorney Phil Salewski of IT-Recht Kanzlei Munich told the researchers. "In case the consent is not obtained before or not given voluntarily, there is a violation of applicable data protection law." Even worse, in our view, individuals ready to make a purchase to improve their privacy online were actually achieving the opposite and were tricked into thinking they would be safe from snooping.

To be precise, out of the 80% of the VPN services claiming to not store any usage logs, only 17% of them have had an external audit on their privacy policy. Our top three favorite services right now—ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark—regularly test their no-log claims, with Express undergoing 11 independent audits in 2022 alone. On top of this, some providers tout a no-logs policy, but a closer inspection of their privacy policies shows tracking from third-party partners. The official party line seems to be "we're not logging your data" but someone else is.
 

n8chavez

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I find this article highly suspect. Is it a coincidence that's their three favorite VPNs, Express, Nord, and Surfshark, are the ones with the highest advertising budget and that both NordVPN and Surfshark anre both owned by the same company? Something seems off here. I don't trust it, or any company that recommends any product from Kape.
 

vtqhtr413

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I find this article highly suspect. Is it a coincidence that's their three favorite VPNs, Express, Nord, and Surfshark, are the ones with the highest advertising budget and that both NordVPN and Surfshark anre both owned by the same company? Something seems off here. I don't trust it, or any company that recommends any product from Kape.
I left the hyperlink to the original study in my post so members could easily choose to read it. I read it and didn't see any obvious/shameless recommendations.

Conclusion: This is how we conducted the study​

At the beginning, we scoured the Internet for VPN services that are available on multiple platforms. In doing so, we were able to identify 144 providers that are available for users to download.

We analysed these services based on 63 different factors, which brought us to a total of 9,072 data points. Between August 05, 2022 and January 26, 2023, we collected this data through hours of painstaking work, checking each provider for their respective factors. The first round of research took us about 20 minutes per provider, for a total of about 48 hours.

You can have a look at our raw data here.
 

Jonny Quest

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And to be honest, that's why I gave you a 100 @BryanB , as IMO, this was a very pertinent thread, a where the rubber meets the road topic of VPNs that most of us use. But, n8's post did make me think regarding the high-profile names mentioned.

Just a curious thought, all of, or at least most of the reviews are for standalone VPN apps. Is there any study or article comparing, or breaking down Suite VPNs like Bitdefenders, Kasperskys, and F-Secures? Like the article from BD 7.3 VPN Services, privacy disclosure:
 

Arequire

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I find this article highly suspect. Is it a coincidence that's their three favorite VPNs, Express, Nord, and Surfshark, are the ones with the highest advertising budget and that both NordVPN and Surfshark anre both owned by the same company? Something seems off here. I don't trust it, or any company that recommends any product from Kape.
TechRadar's openly partnered with Nord, Surfshark and Express through their respective affiliate programs. They earn commission on every VPN subscription purchased through their referral links, thus their continued promotion of those services.
 
F

ForgottenSeer 100397

Well they also said this:

"Fortunately, there are a few providers that do without trackers. However, this counts down to only 12 providers that are completely free of trackers. This means that just 8.28% of all VPN providers examined are tracker-free. These include Mullvad, AirVPN and ProtonVPN."
They also said this: Hide.me and Windscribe also had no trackers on their websites or apps.
 
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vtqhtr413

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TechRadar's openly partnered with Nord, Surfshark and Express through their respective affiliate programs. They earn commission on every VPN subscription purchased through their referral links, thus their continued promotion of those services.
I would think most, if not all of these news outlets do whatever they can to make a living, they post ads on their sites also. They dig up and post information that they hope will draw us in and in return for that information they throw some ads up and recommend an affiliate here and there, no harm done, it keeps their sites free, if they hadn't dug this up and posted it, we probably wouldn't have seen this research/study. Skepticism is essential but this is not a complicated arrangement.
 
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Arequire

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no harm done
One could argue harm is being done if they're recommending these three vendors because of said affiliate programs. Obviously I can't prove that accusation, but I think there's a clear conflict of interest on the part of TechRadar, who's job it is to recommend VPNs from various vendors but whom is receiving payment for assisting select vendors in driving sales.
 

vtqhtr413

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When posting these assorted articles, you never know whose Ox will be gored, or the reasons behind the emotion. This post has rubbed you the wrong way and I care about that to a degree, I think we'lll have to agree we disagree and leave it there.
 

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