Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become increasingly popular as a way to protect user privacy but it turns out that some may not be as private as they claim. That's according to a recent study of the most popular VPN providers conducted by the VPN-reviewing site, The Best VPN. In fact, as many as 26 of the most popular service providers in the category, of the 115 studied, collect as many as three different log files on users. Some of those contain personal information that flies directly in the face of those VPNs' stated policies on data collection – collecting information such as a user's name, email and IP addresses, phone numbers, and more. Bearing that in mind, it would be recommended that anybody utilizing the study's listed providers to gain added privacy against data collection find a different VPN to use.
The full list of the 26 VPNs in question includes PureVPN, HideMyAss, HotSpot Shield, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, Astrill, ZoogVPN, Buffered, TigerVPN, Boleh VPN, Anonymizer, IPinator, Seed4.me, AnonVPN, FlyVPN, SunVPN, iPredator, HideIP VPN, VPN Gate, HolaVPN, Faceless.me, Betternet, Ace VPN, Flow VPN, Freedom-IP, IronSocket. The common thread among each of those is that they all seem to at very least collect data about usernames and connection timestamps, in addition to information regarding the specific technology the VPN is being used with. However, at least 10 of those don't just collect some data but log everything that they can.
One of those, BolehVPN, does at least claim to only track all data if an anonymous user is found to be breaking the company's policies of use. On the other hand, Seed4.me goes so far to openly admit that they are logging everything and to claim that every VPN in the world is doing exactly what the same thing. As if in justification for the behavior, it then goes on to say that any VPN provider saying otherwise is just lying. The trend is made all the more disturbing by the fact that the use of a VPN is viewed by many as a necessity in the modern world. The overwhelming majority of these companies also appears to be engaged in dishonest marketing, where the extent of collections is buried deep in policy documents or not ever revealed at all.