This morning, an article popped up indicating that PIA [Private Internet Access] was discontinuing service in Russia because of new laws that they passed. The new law indicated that VPN servers operating in Russia must maintain an activity log on all users for the duration of a year.
I think the most part, they’re probably upset that they can’t see what these the VPN users are doing over the Internet; whether able to access, what they’re downloading and what services they’re using.
For the most part, I think the authorities, governments, and government regulatory agencies view VPN users as pirates, but I don’t think that’s holistically accurate. I think those entities are pigeonholing people who value their privacy and putting them in the same category as people who pirate content.
It’s easy to say that people who use a VPN are all pirates because for the most part their activities can’t be traced and Internet service providers can’t see what those users are doing. And that’s great because that’s the whole point of having a VPN service; to remain anonymous and to be able to access Internet services from wherever they are in the world.
Everyone has the right to anonymity over the Internet. Everyone has the right to have a certain level of privacy and not to be restricted by Internet service providers or a particular media service.
It wasn’t too long ago that Comcast was restricting them with to their customers who are accessing YouTube and Netflix. Their bandwidth was being throttled because those users were being monitored actively. But testing by those users revealed that if they use a VPN service, they received the unfettered throughput that they had purchased from Comcast. So it made perfect sense for people who were using Comcast, wasn’t able to get the full potential of say, Netflix, to use a VPN service to circumvent Comcast’s monitoring/throttling services.
One of the more recent attacks on innocent and legitimate uses of VPN users was that of Netflix. Netflix went after VPN services to actively shut down all connections to their service if it was coming from a VPN server.
Again, I know that pirates can use VPN services to access Netflix services, or were, but there’s also people who were legitimately using VPN services to get the full potential of their ISP. Now with Netflix blocking that service, now customers have to use Netflix through a public channel. ISPs can now actively see what services that customer is using and if they choose, and throttle that service. This is an obvious point of frustration for legitimate users of VPN services. But I also understand that this is a contract breach of Netflix’s terms of service.
What seems worse and more costly is that by Netflix blocking VPN users, which would most likely be a majority of Cord Cutters, that forces them to go get their media content elsewhere. This is to say that the crackdown on blocking VPN users forces them to actually pirate content. Utilizing services like torrent websites.
The Opposing Thought…
I like the idea that we’re seeing more focus on privacy, VPN service and security with the Internet in general. More VPN services are popping up, which means more competition and lower prices. We are also seeing web browsers now with plug-ins and extensions that offer users the ability to add VPN services directly in the browser, and some of those services are free.
After the Snowden revelations, it makes sense for people to try to take their Internet presence and privacy a little more seriously. Having a VPN service does not make a person evil, it makes them concerned about their online security.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on this, let me know in the comments below…