More About VPN Services
VPN (Virtual Private Network) services are being hailed by many as a way to prevent your ISP from collecting and selling your Internet data. Some experts suggest that the data being collected and sold by ISPs contains the most personal and sensitive user data, such as Social Security numbers, medical records, information about users’ families and even children.
I think that’s painting with a very broad brush. I doubt that ISPs will want to become involved in selling such critical sensitive and personal information, even if the law does allows it- and I’m not sure it specifically does. Nor do I think competition would allow it either. I don’t think it would be very good for a company’s public image if it were the first to be found selling users’ Social Security Numbers, medical records, and other personal / sensitive data.
Yet, according to many, that’s exactly what ISPs are going to do. I have to wonder what happens to your personal and sensitive data after it is sold. Once the data is sold by the ISP, there would be no control over it. There would little or no control over who would see it or how it would or could be used. That seems to me to be promoting identity theft, and a boon to black market fake ID mills. So, I’m rather skeptical that the data ISPs are going to be selling will be of the highly personal, highly sensitive kind.
Many experts, looking to give readers a quick and easy way to stop their ISP from collecting and selling their Internet data, are recommending the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). In theory, that would be correct, but it practice it’s much more complex than that. One important thing you’ll have to consider is this– you’d have to trust your VPN not to collect or sell your data or to log your online activities. If you’re thinking a free VPN is going to do this, you’re taking a big chance trusting a free or low-cost VPN to do what they promise to do.
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has published an excellent article about VPN services explaining why you should not blindly trust a VPN to keep your Internet activities private.
If you’re considering a VPN service to prevent your ISP from collecting your Internet data, you should make your choice of a VPN very carefully.
Here’s some things you should consider:
You should not blindly trust you VPN provider not to do the very same things you don’t want your ISP doing – like selling your data. If the VPN service is free or very cheap, there’s a good chance that’s what they’re going to be doing, even if they specifically say they won’t.
Does the VPN log your internet traffic. What kinds of information are logged? You should choose an VPN who has been around for many years, who has a track record of advocating for user privacy and who explicitly promises not to log your Internet traffic.
Will the VPN service leak your DNS queries to your ISP?
The EFF suggests two guides you can use as a starting point when researching VPN services. The information in the guides is provided by or derived from the providers, therefore you still have to trust the provider’s assertions.
If you’re seriously considering a VPN service, we recommend you read this article published by the EFF.