An Expose on How VPN Service Providers Ensure Your Anonymity

In order to see which VPNs take your anonymity seriously, I decided to evaluate how some of the top VPN providers in the industry approach the issue of customer anonymity. I decided to develop a list of 5 simple questions and send it to 5 VPN industry leaders.

My search for the best anonymous VPN service did not take long as almost all of them were more than willing to provide responses. These are the five VPN providers that were included in this survey:

Rankprovideras low asFeaturesvisit
1$6.49
per month
  • PPTP, L2TP/IPSec & OpenVPN protocols
  • Over 14,000+ IPs & 139+ servers in 60 countries
  • 2 Multi login
  • 7-Day Money Back Guarantee
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2$4.16
per month
  • PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN & IKEv2 protocols
  • Over 55,000+IPs & 350+ servers in 59+ countries
  • 5 Multi Logins
  • 3-Day Money Back Guarantee
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3$3.33
per month
  • PPTP, L2TP & OpenVPN protocols
  • Over 1592+ servers in 10+ countries
  • 5 Multi Logins
  • 7-Day Money Back Guarantee
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4$8.32
per month
  • OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and PPTP protocols
  • 72+ Servers in 46 countries
  • 2 Multi Logins
  • 30 day money back guarantee
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5$4.16
per month
  • PPTP, L2TP/IPSec & OpenVPN protocols
  • 53+ servers in 36+ countries
  • Multi login
  • 7-Day Money Back Guarantee
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Below are the responses I received from PureVPN, IPVanish, Express VPN and Earth VPN. Nope, HideMyAss did not care to respond to my questions. Not even after 48 hours of having posted my support ticket. To anybody from HideMyAss reading this right now: that would be support ticket number #89320 in your February 24 back log.

These are the five questions I sent to each of the five VPN service providers:

  • Logs: Which specific type of user data do you record? How long are these logs kept for?
  • Legal Jurisdiction: Under what jurisdiction(s) does your company operate? Which laws are applicable on your company under this jurisdiction?
  • 3rd Party: What are the hypothetical circumstances in which you share users’ information with a 3rd party?
  • Government Intervention: How will you handle a government notice to hand over all user data in your possession?
  • Payment: How do you keep customer data safe? The data collected during payment for instance.

 

PureVPN

1. Logs

We do not keep any website access logs. However, a session log is maintained. This session log records the time stamps and lengths of each VPN usage session. The purpose of these logs is to monitor and evaluate server loads so that PureVPN can optimize its server spread to function smoothly during high-traffic hours.

Data that is recorded in these logs also includes a record of the used bandwidth. Other data that is recorded is the number of user clicks on different features in the PureVPN client. The purpose of this data collection is to judge the using frequency of features provided by PureVPN so that they can be improved in the pursuit of user convenience.

2. Legal Jurisdiction

PureVPN operates under the Hong Kong jurisdiction. Hong Kong is one of the most privacy friendly regions in the world. Laws pertaining to freedom of speech and censorship do not violate the right to internet privacy. We enjoy significant freedom in Hong Kong and remain safe from domestic cross-fire in the region as an international enterprise. Laws in the Telecommunications Ordinance regarding data privacy allow PureVPN to function without any disturbance caused by legal interventions.

3. 3rd Party

We exercise an iron-clad resolve to protect our users’ data. We reserve the right to carry out manual internal investigations if we feel that a user is exploiting our services for purposes that may violate laws. However, we do so quietly and do not rock the boat if it is ever necessary to do so. We respect our users’ right to their internet privacy and guarantee service quality.

4. Government Intervention

In case of government intervention, PureVPN will not be answerable to any government except for that of the immediate jurisdiction. Our global server spread makes us somewhat vulnerable to laws of different countries but we make sure that we function safely within legal boundaries wherever we establish a foothold.

5. Payment

We use the most reliable payment methods available. In addition, we accept a variety of payment methods so that subscribers can get through the process with the payment method that they are most comfortable with.

PureVPN

Express VPN

1. Logs

We keep only generic log information for the purpose of understanding how to improve our service. The type of information we collect includes login IP addresses, choice of server location, and aggregate amount of bandwidth transferred. This gives us the statistics we need to manage our servers properly and provide a service for our customers that is free of network congestion or bottlenecks. Usually these logs are only kept for a week or so.

2. Legal Jurisdiction

Express VPN is based in the USA and therefore abides by USA laws and jurisdiction.

3. 3rd Party

Our software may send diagnostic data to a 3rd party analytics provider for the purpose of identifying connection errors and possible bugs in our application. The information collected is completely generic in nature and does not contain network data or any personally identifying information.

We do not as a matter of ordinary practice store private information about individual user activities on our network, such as emails, chats, VOIP calls, websites visited, etc. However, we are required to comply with any valid legal requests from the US law enforcement officials.

4. Government Intervention

As above: we are required to comply with any valid legal requests from US law enforcement officials.

5. Payment

We use high strength 256-bit encryption to protect your data. This site has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. All data is protected using the most advanced methods available.

Express VPN

Earth VPN

1. Logs

We are definitely not interested in our customers’ internet usage and therefore EarthVPN does not  keep any logs .Logging technically requires peta-bytes of logging storage which is not profitable in any case with our price ranges. We offer unlimited bandwidth therefore there is no need to track bandwidth accounting.

2. Legal Jurisdiction

EarthVPN IS under jurisdiction of Northern Cyprus and we do not have data retention law in our country.

3. 3rd Party

Under no circumstances we will provide any personal or private information to the third parties without legal court order. As stated on our privacy policy in case of law enforcement agencies notify us that our IP is involving in criminal activities (terrorism, child pornography etc see our terms of service for acceptable use of policy) we reserve the right to investigate manually to find the cause of criminal activity.

4. Government Intervention

Our government does not require data retention and we do not keep any logs.

5. Payment

We do not require any personal information from our customers for signing up. All payments are via 3rd party payment gateways. We make sure that transactions are not linked to the users. We generate a unique key per transaction to verify payment for the account is made, and then delete that unique key. This way no one can bind a payment to one of our IPs. We suggest to pay via bitcoins for maximum anonymity.

EarthVPN

IPVanish

1. Logs

IPVanish has a no log policy.  IPVanish respects their customers’ right to privacy and do not think it’s anyone’s business what someone else does.  IPVanish also uses shared IP address, which makes it impossible to single out any one user for anything.  They also do not limit the number of times a customer can switch VPN servers (IPV currently offers 7,000+ IPs on 110+ servers in 47 countries) nor do they limit bandwidth, ports, protocols, server or VPN protocol switching.

2. Legal Jurisdiction

IPVanish is headquartered in the US and thus operate under US law.

3. 3rd Party

IPVanish does not share, sell or lease any information to any 3rd parties whatsoever.

4. Government Intervention

IPVanish, like every other company, has to follow the law in order to remain in business.  However, we keep no logs on any user activity and respond accordingly.

5. Payment

IPVanish is fully PCI compliant and undergoes rigorous 3rd party penetration testing every quarter by Qualys.  IPVanish’s PCI certification is renewed, also with penetration testing, every year by Protiviti.

IPVanish VPN

HideMyAss

Since HideMyAss did not bother to respond, I decided to take the high-road and attempted to answer these questions as best as possible through a bit of research.

1. Logs

HideMyAss time stamps your VPN usage and also records the IP address assigned to you by the HideMyAss server, and the data size transmitted during VPN sessions. Data is stored for up to 2 months after which it is deleted. However, data generated during correspondence with HideMyAss via support tickets and other customer support features (such as LiveChat) is stored for up to 6 months.

Also, if HideMyAss suspects that you are at fault, your data is stored for more than 2 months during which HideMyAss investigates you internally.

2. Legal Jurisdiction

HideMyAss is owned and operated by Privax Limited. Privax Limited is registered in London and Wales. As a result, HideMyAss is accountable under English jurisdiction. HideMyAss will hand over user data if instructed by the government under the law of the land.

3. 3rd Party

HideMyAss reserves the right to share data collected/generated by HideMyAss during its functioning with other subsidiaries of the Privax Group. Also, HideMyAss will hand over user data to a third party if instructed to do so by the English government.

4. Government Intervention

HideMyAss will hand over user data to the government if instructed to do so.

5. Payment

HideMyAss stores its data outside the jurisdiction of the European Economic Area and is therefore are not affected by its laws.

Hidemyass VPN

Conclusion

You now know how some of the top VPN service providers exercise your anonymity. I will get in touch with more VPN service providers and update this article, but what I won’t do is to tell you which one of them you should choose.

You now stand at cross-road where you know all your options. Read the detailed reviews if you want to know more about the VPN service providers. At the end of the day, it is your call.

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Danish Pervez

Author

Danish Pervez's Biography :


When the world sleeps, Danish Pervez is online researching consumer preferences and identifying next-gen trend waves. Experience in IT, combined with his diverse expertise in marketing and research - both traditional and digital - gives him an insight well worth reading and sharing.


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