Do VPNs Sell Your Data to Third-Parties?

Third-party data selling by VPNs is real! People worldwide use virtual private networks for privacy and to surf the Internet anonymously. Like all service providers VPNs also have their good and bad shades. The bad ones do not take the security of your data that seriously. A recent investigation showed close to 26 of the 117 most popular VPNs were saving user data. With the new GDPR laws now in force, VPN service providers are also being closely scrutinized for how they are utilizing customer data banks. The interesting part is that data collection is not illegal as the service providers mention these terms in their privacy policy. As users, however, we mostly skip reading that part and click ‘I agree’.

Do VPNs Sell Your Data to Third-Parties?

Do VPNs Sell Your Data to Third-Parties?

How VPNs End Up Selling Your Data

Many of the VPN service providers are not clear about how they are making money from your usage of their service. There are free VPN services as well as paid ones, some are reputed, popular, and very widely used while some might be a bit shady. It’s really not that easy to identify which service may misuse your data and which will keep it safe.

Remaining completely anonymous while using a VPN is not entirely possible. VPN service providers have large dumps of user data that are invaluable for data-driven technology and digital giants. They pay atrocious sums of money for this information which VPN companies willingly accept.

How VPN Companies Sell Customer Data to Third Parties:

There are numerous ways a VPN service provider can use your personal data to make a few extra bugs. Most methods include selling the info you provide the VPN with to advertising agencies.

  • Your email address is shared with their marketing partners. This comes as priceless information to companies that require large email databases for digital marketing, email marketing, and other such ventures.
  • Many VPN companies have their own business arms that can make good use of data analytics for which they require large amounts of customer data. It’s not difficult to deduce where all this information comes to them.
  • Some free VPN companies use your network to route other users so they have access to your local network and IP address. This practice can particularly be dangerous as any individual, even someone involved in cybercrime might use your network and there’s no way you will be able to convince the authorities that it wasn’t you.
  • VPN companies get their revenue from ads that are also run on your network. These advertisers are allowed to log and track your data. Display ads on apps you use, sponsored ads, videos, and many other different types of ads on your VPN can easily get access to your data.
  • Most often you get notifications that warn you about cookies being added in your browser and you allow it to happen. Unknowingly or knowingly, your data is tracked and sold by VPN companies to those willing to pay the price.
  • VPNs set a cap of 500Mb/day or similar to get you to upgrade to a paid plan. Once you do so, your payment details and banking information, PayPal data, etc can be logged.
  • Your device information, your location data, hardware device information as well as your service provider information can be sold to data mining companies.
  • Some VPNs also can have full control over your smartphone – they can access your device and app history to your phone status and identity. It’s a scary thought but some unsecured networks can also to modify and delete your phone media.

Why Do VPNs Sell Your Data?

As the saying goes “if you’re not being sold a product, you most likely are the product”. Anything with the promise of being free comes with a hidden agenda. How do you think any “free” service maintains its function and sustains itself (nothing is free, we know all about that after Obamacare hit us in the face!)? There has to be some source of revenue. VPNs that end up selling user data do so for many reasons including the following:

  • Cost of maintaining a server: While you are using the VPN your traffic has to be routed through their servers this has a cost attached to it. It all depends on the strength of the user base of the free VPN. The lower the strength, the server charges may be in the thousands of dollars and for VPNs with larger networks of customers the server chargers can go into the millions.
  • To boost revenue: Without having a fixed product revenue generation and sustaining monetary growth can be quite a challenge. In recent times display ads have started paying less. VPN service providers take advantage of this and they share user information or sell them to companies who need to create targeted ads based on valuable data.
  • To simply make millions: Having access to data of millions of users is like sitting on a goldmine. It would also be difficult to resist the urge of not using it in some way and gain millions of dollars. Unless a company has strict policies that they abide by, this user information can easily be sold or leaked out in exchange for hefty sums of bonus money.

Don’t Be Naive: Free VPNs Sell Your Data!

In conclusion, it is safe to say that there can’t be any assurance of complete data security from a VPN service provider unless it explicitly states so in its data privacy policy.

You can, however, take measures to ensure that you do your best in securing personal, private, and confidential information and utilize services of only trusted and renowned VPN companies that provide paid and premium services. 

Protect yourself!

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