VPN Firms Set for a Great 2017 Thanks to Snoopers’ Charter
Virtual private network (VPN) providers are reporting an upsurge in interest from UK citizens keen to avoid state snoopers after the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill was passed.
Despite widespread opposition from rights groups, legal experts and the public – but crucially not the Labour Party – the Snoopers’ Charter was made law at the end of November.
It enshrines sweeping mass surveillance powers into law and forces ISPs to retain the web browsing records of everyone in the country for up to 12 months.
Also included is the potential for the government to demand backdoors in products in order to allow it to surveil the populace in the name of national security.
Over the summer, two surveys highlighted widespread opposition to the proposals.
Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents to a Venafi study said they were concerned the law would green light increased government snooping power, while 90% of those polled by Liberty were against the legislation.
Unsurprisingly, reports have been coming in that concerned netizens are now looking for technology solutions to uphold their privacy rights.
VPN provider Private Internet Access claimed that it had seen a 20% increase in signups from the UK in the week following parliamentary approval of the IP Bill, and rival NordVPN said that inquiries from the UK had almost tripled following the move.
The firm claimed it has doubled encryption between the UK and its servers in the Netherlands as a precaution.
It should be remembered for anyone considering a VPN that not all providers offer the same levels of anonymity.
Netizens should obviously avoid any providers based in the UK, as they would be subject to demands to access communications from the authorities.
It’s also important to choose a provider which doesn’t store any record of user activity or identity like IP address. A handy guide has been compiled by Comparitech here.
The European Court of Justice (CJEU) this week effectively prohibited the kind of mass surveillance outlined in the Snoopers’ Charter, in a landmark ruling.
However, that’s unlikely to have much effect on the government’s plans, given the UK is set to leave the EU, and therefore the court’s jurisdiction, following the Brexit vote.
Source: Information Security Magazine