Should You Use a VPN for Internet Privacy?


It’s safe to say that plenty of the shenanigans you get up to online are being tracked, logged, or monitored by someone. Whether it’s an advertiser getting your attention based on the window shopping you did during Prime Day, Facebook suggesting friends for you based on your interactions on Instagram, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) sending you a cease and desist letter for trying to download an illegal copy of Midsommar, someone probably knows what you’re doing online.VPN service

Which is why a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a service that obfuscates your online activity, can sound so appealing. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection from your device to the web, disguising your IP address and online traffic. From there, depending on your VPN of choice, you can essentially pretend to browse the web from anywhere without revealing where you actually are. They won’t make you completely anonymous online, but they can help to keep your browsing data private, usually at the expense of a small dip in internet speeds.

“VPNs have exploded in the marketplace since the rollback of the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules in 2017, because people usually don’t trust their ISP,” says Jerome Joseph, policy counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, an online privacy advocacy organization. “And they saw VPNs as a way to avoid the watchful eye of their ISP.” The repeal, signed into law by President Donald Trump, gives your ISP carte blanche to sell your web traffic-related data to marketers, finance companies, and other interested parties, all without your consent.

Now that ISPs are able to sell and profit from your web traffic, it makes sense that so many people are interested in protecting their activity. But even VPNs might not be a silver bullet when it comes to privacy, experts say.

More often than not, VPNs just shift your risk,” says Gennie Gebhart, associate director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital privacy advocacy group. “They don’t eliminate privacy risk.” That’s because a VPN, like your nosey ISP, still has to see your web traffic in order to protect it — so if you want to use one, you should make sure it’s one you can trust.

How can you tell which VPN is on your side? And which ones are playing fast and loose with your data? Pricing is a huge giveaway. “In general I think users should stay away from free VPNs,” says Joseph. “There is no such thing as free; your data is their product.” The most popular paid VPN services usually cost around $10 a month.

Other factors, like a VPN’s server location or locations, data logging policies, and past responses to requests for data by law enforcement, are all worth considering as well to consider, but don’t guarantee protections. “The laws might change in the country where [a VPN is] based,” says Gebhart. “It’s such a moving target, choosing the right VPN.”When comes to the issue of online privacy and security, we suggest to use a VPN, and our recommendation is RitaVPN.Qwer432
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