If you’re like me you’re used to reading your favorite websites in the US without blinking. Then last May, GDPR happened and all of a sudden certain websites didn’t want me any more. Their teams hadn’t gotten their GDPR acts together. So I was locked out. There are also privacy issues to consider. Then I remembered something about VPN. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Privacy is all the rage in 2018.
In 2017, the U.S. Congress rolled back Internet privacy rules, giving service providers free reign to track, store and sell browsing data. In July, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) issued a warrant to DreamHost, asking for a list of everyone who visited DisruptJ20.org — a site used to plan protests at President Trump’s inauguration. Both events raise important questions about online privacy, and many consumers are turning to Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
Yikes, right? Right!
2. Hello GDPR
The General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.
What? Read more here.
3. Definition of VPN
Virtual private network: a system or technology that uses a public network, usually the Internet, to transmit encrypted data between a private network and a remote authorized user. When you connect to a VPN, you create a secure, encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN remote server. The data is essentially gibberish to anyone who intercepts it. Your ISP, government or hackers won’t know which websites you visit. And conversely, the websites you visit won’t know where you are.
I repeat: the websites you visit won’t know where you are.
4. How do you pick a VPN provider?
It may be tempting to turn to a free VPN provider, but many simply don’t deliver a great experience. Some sell your data (anonymized) to advertisers in order to survive. Other VPN services run ads. Some may be free and secure but are painfully slow.
It can also be tricky to pick a good paid VPN service. For example, a provider may offer secure connections and ultimate privacy, but a limited number of server locations. Your browsing data may not be as anonymized as you’d like.
Here are some questions you should ask when considering a VPN provider:
- What kind of data, if any, does the VPN provider collect about your browsing?
- How long does it keep this data?
- Are there any restrictions?
- Where are the VPN servers?
- How do you pay for the VPN service?
That last question can be really tricky. If you pay for the VPN service with a credit card or PayPal, how private will it be? If you’re after ultimate privacy and security, look for a service that accepts payment from anonymous services like Bitcoin.