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In today’s post we’d like to give a shot out to the many Host SEO customers that get their cheap VPS server for the purpose of setting up their own VPN.

Increasingly, more and more people are becoming aware of the value of using a VPN for all of their online activities. Not only are VPNs useful for protecting your data while using public WiFi networks, but also for preventing your ISP from monitoring your online activities.

Especially for those of you living in the developed world, the concept of online privacy is becoming more and more endangered. In the US, the House of Representatives recently voted to allow internet service providers to sell your browsing data in the open market. In the UK the situation is even worse, with the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 giving full powers to the government to store the browsing history of every citizen, as well as allowing domestic intelligence agencies to hack and spy on citizens’ online activities.

The case for using a VPN as a safeguard against surveillance is clear. However, choosing to use free VPN services might be even more detrimental to your online privacy.

The Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit advocacy group that fights for online privacy rights, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a service that is arguably the most popular free VPN provider in the world: HotSpot Shield.

The 13-page document is full with interesting points, but in a nutshell what they argue is the following:

  • While the service claims not to collect personal information such as name or address, they don’t explicitly deny collecting your IP address. That is, of course, a major red flag, as your IP address alone would in most cases suffice to identify who you are.
  • The Terms of Service state that HotSpot Shield may sell your activity information (aka browsing data) to third parties. In other words, they could be snooping on everything you do and then selling that data to the highest bidder.

Understandably, a VPN services that does not charge for its services must make money from somewhere else. It is not surprising that the strategy for doing so appears to be the collection and sale of private user data.

In short, if you want to protect your online privacy, use VPN but don’t use free VPN services.

Setting up your own VPN server in a VPS you fully control, and with a server provider that is 100% committed to privacy and does not collect data from its customers’ servers, is one way of browsing the web in a safer and more private way. We can help you convert your cheap VPS server into a fully-fledged VPN server. Just drop us a note.

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