Torrentfreak has published its annual survey of privacy-oriented VPN services, digging into each one's technical, legal and business practices to see how seriously they take the business of protecting your privacy.
It's a wealth of information — too much, really! — and cries out to be represented on a grid or in some other easy-to-digest form. But it's spectacularly useful, if only for looking up your own provider (I use Ipredator), even though most of these practices are unaudited and can't be independently verified.
1. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold and for how long?
2. Under what jurisdiction(s) does your company operate?
3. What tools are used to monitor and mitigate abuse of your service?
4. Do you use any external email providers (e.g. Google Apps) or support tools ( e.g Live support, Zendesk) that hold information provided by users?
5. In the event you receive a DMCA takedown notice or European equivalent, how are these handled?
6. What steps are taken when a valid court order requires your company to identify an active user of your service? Has this ever happened?
7. Does your company have a warrant canary or a similar solution to alert customers to gag orders?
8. Is BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic allowed on all servers? If not, why?
9. Which payment systems do you use and how are these linked to individual user accounts?
10. What is the most secure VPN connection and encryption algorithm you would recommend to your users? Do you provide tools such as "kill switches" if a connection drops and DNS leak protection?
11. Do you use your own DNS servers? (if not, which servers do you use?)
12. Do you have physical control over your VPN servers and network or are they outsourced and hosted by a third party (if so, which ones)? Where are your servers located?
Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously? 2015 Edition [Ernesto/Torrentfreak]
(Image: Peep The All Seeing Spy Eye, Michael Ronayne, PD)