March 2013

from TorrentFreak Website

 

 

 

More than a year ago TorrentFreak took a look at a selection of the webís VPN providers to see which ones really take privacy seriously. During the months that followed we received dozens of emails begging us to carry out an update and today here it is.

 

The first installment in our list of VPN providers that due to their setup cannot link user activity to external IP addresses and activities.

 

 

 

 

Prompted by a high-profile case of an individual using an Ďanonymousí VPN that turned out to offer less than expected protection, TorrentFreak decided to ask a selection of VPN companies some tough questions.

 

With our findings we compiled a report of providers that due to their setup were unable to link their outbound IP addresses with user accounts. Ever since we have received countless emails demanding an update.

 

Itís taken a long time but today we bring the first installment in a series of posts highlighting VPN providers that take privacy seriously. Our first article focuses on anonymity and a later installment will highlight file-sharing aspects and possible limitations.

 

We tried to ask direct questions that left providers with little room for maneuver.

 

Providers who didnít answer our questions directly, didnít answer at all, or completely failed by logging everything, were simply left out. Sadly this meant that quite a few were disregarded.

 

This year we also asked more questions, which are as follows:

 

  1. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you or a 3rd party to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold?

  2. Under what jurisdictions does your company operate and under what exact circumstances will you share the information you hold with a 3rd party?

  3. In the event you receive a DMCA takedown notice or European equivalent, how are these handled?

  4. Which payment systems do you operate and how are these linked to individual user accounts?

The list of providers is a tiny sample of the thousands out there today and is not comprehensive by any means. Providers not covered this time around will be added during the coming weeks.

 

All responses listed below are in the words of the providers themselves and the order of the list does not carry any meaning.

 

 

 

 

Private Internet Access (*****)

  1. We absolutely do not maintain any VPN logs of any kind. We utilize shared IP addresses rather than dynamic or static IPs, so it is not possible to match a user to an external IP. These are some of the many solutions we have implemented to enable the strongest levels of anonymity amongst VPN services.

     

  2. Our company currently operates out of the United States with gigabit gateways in the US, Canada, Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Romania. We chose the US, since it is one of the few countries without a mandatory data retention law. We will not share any information with third parties without a valid court order. With that said, it is impossible to match a user to any activity on our system since we utilize shared IPs and maintain absolutely no logs.

     

  3. We are in compliance with DMCA as all companies, world-wide, must be. We have proprietary technology and an experienced legal team which allows us to comply without any risk to our users.

     

  4. We accept many payment methods directly, including PayPal, CC, Google, Amazon, Bitcoin, Liberty Reserve, OKPay, and CashU. Further, we would like to encourage our users to use an anonymous e-mail and pay with Bitcoins to ensure even higher levels of anonymity should it be required. We only store the minimal information required to provide customers refunds.

Private Internet Access website

 




 

CryptoStorm (*****)

 

 

  1. Genuine - No hypeware or marketing gimmicks. Opensource, published, peer-reviewed fundamentals. Dedicated servers, FDE from the metal. No-bullshit Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.
     

  2. Strong Crypto - From algorithm choice to OpSec procedures, we've been iteratively hardening attack surfaces for years. No encraption, broken protocols, or slapdash administration.
     

  3. Battle Tested - Our core team helped launch the VPN industry, & we've been redefining the possible every step since. Activist friendly? Indeed: we've directly supported info dissidentsÖ for decades.
     

  4. Structurally anonymous, token-based, open-source, unlimited bandwidth network security/privacy service: old-style ďVPN serviceĒ evolved to something entirely new, qualitatively distinct.

     

  5. Combining the technological insights of Tor/#torsploit with production-class infrastructure & battle-tested OpSec expertise, cryptostorm is secure darknet communications for everyone: all protocols, all applications, all OS/platforms - unlimited bandwidth & unlimited usage.

     

  6. Properly-implemented Diffie-Hellman ephemeral sessions (discrete log function-based asymmetric re-key of symmetric cipher suites every 20 minutes), token-based network auth, Privacy Seppuku Pledge.

     

  7. Redefining privacy service for a post-PRISM world: cryptostorm.

     

  8. Rooted in Iceland, financials via Quťbec/First Nations territories, we're designed ground-up to embody a decentralized, flexible, crafty approach to real-world network security. Strictly limited subscription availability means network resources grow before new members can join. Member security first; everything else is just backstory.


CryptoStorm website.

 

 

 

 

 

BTGuard (****)

btguard

1. We do not keep any logs whatsoever.

 

2. The jurisdiction is Canada. Since we do not have log files, we have no information to share. We do not communicate with any third parties. The only event we would even communicate with a third-party is if we received a court order. We would then be forced to notify them we have no information. This has not happened yet.

 

3. We do not have any open incoming ports, so itís not possible for us to ďtakedownĒ any broadcasting content.

 

4. At the moment we only accept Paypal and Bitcoin. We have plans to accept alternative credit card processing in the near future.

BTguard website

 

 

 

 

 

Torguard (****)

1. TorGuard doesnít store IPís or time stamps on our VPN/proxy servers, not even for a second. Itís impossible to match what is not there. Since some people tend to misbehave when using a VPN , this raises the obvious question: how do we maintain a fast, abuse-free network? If even our network engineer canít back track the abuser by IP, then how do we stop it?

 

Through packet level filtering at the firewall itís possible to apply rules to an entire shared server, blocking the abuse immediately. For example, letís say someone decides to use TorGuard to unlawfully promote their Ugg boots business (spam). In order for us to block this one individual, we simply implement new firewall rules, effectively blocking the abused protocol for everyone on that VPN server. Since there are no user logs to go by, we handle abuse per server, not per user.

 

2. TorGuard recently went through some corporate restructuring and has now moved its parent company to Nevis, West Indies. Our company abides by all International laws and data regulations imposed within our legal jurisdiction. We donít share any information with anyone regarding our network or its users and wonít even consider communicating with a 3rd party unless theyíve first obtained adequate representation within our legal jurisdiction. Only in the event of an official court ordered ruling would we be forced to hand over blank hard drives. Thereís nothing to hand over but an operating system.

 

3. TorGuard complies immediately (24 hours or less) with all DMCA takedown notices. Since itís impossible for us to locate which user on the server is actually responsible for the violation, we block the infringing protocol in its entirety, whatever it may be Ė Kazaa, HTTP, Jabber, Citrix, Bittorrent, FTP, Gnucleus, eDonkey2000, etc. This ensures the content in violation is immediately removed from that server and no longer active on our network.

 

4. We accept all forms of credit card, Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Discover, PayPal , Google Checkout and Bitcoins. We also accept anonymous payments through our pre-paid PIN system. These pre-paid service PIN numbers can be purchased from one of our participating online resellers and redeemed during checkout on our website.

 

Our client billing area and VPN/Proxy user auth servers are two completely separate systems. This is to ensure the privacy and securities of our customerís accounts are upheld at all times. While the customerís chosen payment method will be linked to the client billing area login, this information is kept completely separate from their VPN/Proxy network. In this way, itís virtually impossible to ďconnect the dotsĒ of a paying customer with that of someone who is using the servers. This can become a pain for clients as they are required to remember two sets of logins/passwords, but trust us Ė itís in the best interest of security.

TorGuard website

(Use the promo / coupon code TorrentFreak to get a 20% discount at Torguard.

 

 

 

 

 

Proxy.sh (***)

proxy

1. No information whatsoever is being recorded or held in our facilities. Our services are run from RAM and all our system services come with state-of-the-art configuration that ensures nothing is left after usage. The only information we have about our customers is an e-mail address and the name of the payment method.

 

2. We are based in Seychelles and we do not communicate with external governments or authorities. The only cases where we may eventually share information we hold with a 3rd party is when our ethics tell us to do so, that is precisely when activities such as child pornography or human rights violation are being reported, and to such extent, we would report them to NGOs rather than governments or corporations. But once again, there is very little we can actually share about.

 

3. We do not comply with any regulation that is not issued by the Government of Seychelles. When our American or European servers are being reported as infringing property rights, we shut them down and open new nodes in other locations.

 

4. We offer more than 85 different payment methods such as Bitcoins, SMS, phone calls, prepaid cards, PayPal, WebMoney, virtual cash, credit cards, bank transfer or yet again OTC (over-the-counter) options such as by going to your local post office. Payments are only linked to the customerís e-mail address while VPN access accounts are randomly and independently generated.

Proxy.sh website

 

 

 

 

 

Privacy.io (***)

1) We do not keep any logs on our servers. Neither us nor 3rd parties are able to match IPs to a username.

 

2) Privacy IO is an Australian Registered business. Under no circumstances will we provide any 3rd party information about our users. We are unable to comply with DMCA or equivalent as we have no access or power to do anything about it. As we keep no logs we can not link it to a user to apply said request. If the law attempts to make us do such things, we will move our business to a location where that can not occur, and if that fails we will close up shop before we provide any information.

 

3) See answer to question 2

 

4) At present we only accept PayPal and CC (processed by PayPal), but we are looking into alternative types of payments. We go out of our way to make sure that PayPal transactions are not linked to the users, we generate a unique key per transaction to verify payment for the account is made, and then nuke that unique key.

Privacy.io website

 

 

 

 

 

TorrentPrivacy (***)

1. We donít store any logs, itís impossible to track usersí activity through our VPN.

 

2. Our company is based on Seychelles. We do not disclose any information to 3rd parties and this can be done only in case of a certain lawsuit filed against our company.

 

3. If we receive a notice about DMCA infringement, our team of lawyers solves it immediately without any blocking of servers or protocols. We donít store any content on our servers, users are anonymous, so, there are no problems with it. We promise our customers that they will not have problems with the DMCA.

 

4. PayPal and CommerceGate.

TorrentPrivacy website

 

 

 

 

Anonine (***)

aninine

1. We store a users E-mail and username, that's it. This means that we do not store, or have access to, any traffic logs of any kind. By traffic logs we mean, any kind of data that has the potential to, directly or indirectly, match a users original ip or identity with one of our IPs.

 

2. It is important to remember that we do not store any traffic logs, and therefore it would be physically impossible for us to hand something like that over to a 3rd party. This, next to the encryption, is the core of the entire anonymity aspect of the service. This is possible by the fact that we operate under Swedish jurisdiction and Swedish law.

 

3. Our no logging policy has never really caused us any trouble since we never have received any official requests to hand over any traffic logs.

 

4. We accept credit card payments through Paypal and Payson. For Swedish users we also accept payments through sms and phone. We do not store data from these services. However, each of these services store various types and amounts of data related to the payment, and the payment only, which we do have access to. This is what allows us to perform refunds, or to provide adequate support services etc.

Anonine website

 

 

 

 

IVPN (**)

ivpn

1. No. As a privacy service and EFF member, IVPNís main priority is the anonymity of its users. We use non-persistent logs (stored in memory) on our gateway servers. The logs are only stored for 10 minutes. That time window gives us the ability to troubleshoot any connection problems that may appear, but after 10 minutes no trace of activity is stored.

 

2. IVPN is based in Malta and is subject to its laws. We also have servers in the UK, US, France and Netherlands. We do not share data with 3rd parties. If law enforcement served us with a subpoena and compelled us to log traffic we would shut down the business before cooperating, and relocate to a new jurisdiction.

 

3. We ensure that our network providers understand the nature of our business and that we do not host any content. As a condition of the safe harbor provisions they are required to inform us of each infringement which includes the date, title of the content and the IP address of the gateway through which it was downloaded. We simply respond to each notice confirming that we do not host the content in question.

 

4. We currently accept Bitcoin, Paypal and Payza. No information relating to a customers payment account is stored with the exception of automated Paypal subscriptions where we are required to store the subscription ID in order to assign it to an invoice (only for the duration of the subscription after which it is deleted). We recommend using Bitcoin and manually paying for subscriptions if you wish to keep the source of funding anonymous.

IVPN website

 

 

 

 

AirVPN (**)

airvpn

1. We donít keep any log that can allow a 3rd party to do that.

 

2. AirVPN operates in Italy. The applicable laws can be those of the countries where the servers are physically located (old issue about jurisdiction vs. applicable law). Since we donít hold any information (we donít even require a valid e-mail address) we are unable to share anything that may compromise privacy about VPN usage.

 

3. DMCAs are just ignored: no private entity claim can be considered a proof of anything (even in light of the paper by the University of Washington ďTracking the trackers Ė Why My Printer Received a DMCA Takedown NoticeĒ) and the details given in DMCA notices (pertaining to p2p) lack any substantial proof of any infringement. We sometimes ask for a proof of the alleged claim, just to try to see which methods are used to make up an infringement claim, but so far all private entities have poorly failed to respond with any proof or even with technical details on how such claims are fabricated.

 

4. We accept payment via Bitcoin, Liberty Reserve, PayPal and credit cards. Bitcoin and Liberty Reserve are not linked to accounts: we provide coupon codes (even through independent resellers) that can be used to activate any account. Therefore the link between a payment and an account does not exist.

 

With PayPal, we donít keep such information but PayPal does, just like any bank or financial institution. However, a PayPal payment shows that a person sent money to use AirVPN services, but it does not show how the VPN has been used by that person and not even IF that person has ever connected to a VPN server. The same considerations apply to credit cards transactions. Anyway we donít (and we donít want to) directly process credit cards, so we donít keep any credit card database.

 

Of course, usage of Bitcoin (and if youíre paranoid, Bitcoin over TOR) is recommended.

AirVPN website

 

 

 

 

PrivatVPN (**)

1. We donít keep ANY logs that allow us or a 3rd party to match an IP address and a time stamp to a user our service. The only thing we log are e-mails and user names but itís not possible to bind a activity on the Internet to a user. This applies to all our servers except our U.S. servers.

 

Note: Weíre logging IP addresses and time stamp on the incoming connection for our U.S. servers. We offer no anonymity on our U.S. servers.

 

2. We operate in Swedish jurisdiction. Since we do not log any IP addresses we have nothing to disclose. Circumstances doesnít matter in this case, we have no information regarding our customersí IP addresses and activity on the Internet. Therefore we have no information to share with any 3rd party.

 

3. This depends on the country in which weíre receiving a DMCA takedown. For example, weíve received a DMCA takedown for UK and Finland and our response was to close p2p traffic on those countries.

 

4. No one can bind a payment to a IP youíll get from us when you connect to our service (Paypal, Payson).

PrivatVPN website

 

 

 

 

PRQ (**)

1. No logs are held or kept.

2. We operate in Swedish jurisdiction. We do not give out any information, since we do not have any information to give out.

3. We do not care or get scared about the DMCA.

4. We accept Wiretransfer, Bitcoin and Bankgiro. We only require a working e-mail address to be a customer.

PRQ website

 

 

 

 

Boxpn (**)

boxpn

1. We do not keep any logs of VPN activities. Itís our main policy. All of our clients activities are totally safe.

 

2. Our company operates in Turkey. Boxpn global network covers many major countries; USA, Canada, UK, Panama, Argentina, Iceland, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, Singapore and Australia with over 200+ servers. We are NOT in relation with any 3rd party companies or government agencies. Hence we donít keep any logs even with a court order itís impossible to find information to share related to our vpn network activities.

 

3. Boxpn network has over 70 servers only for Torrent traffic which are all located in countries where there is no data retention law. We also have special agreements with the data centers to keep our torrent network UP and running, keep our clients safe. So we never receive DMCA complaints. Regarding to non-torrent networks our hardware base firewalls automatically drops the p2p traffic.

 

4. We accept Paypal and all forms of credit cards; VISA, MASTERCARD, AMEX.

Boxpn website

 

 

 

 

EarthVPN (**)

earthvpn

1. EarthVPN does NOT log any VPN usage or user activity. Neither us nor third parties are technically possible to match an IP address to an account.

 

2. Under no circumstances we will provide any personal or private information to the third parties. We are located in the jurisdiction of Northern Cyprus where there is no log/data retention law.

 

3. EarthVPN has offshore servers on all continents specially optimized for P2P and Torrent traffic.On our P2P/Torrent offshore servers DMCA or any equivalent do not apply. P2P/Torrent traffic is blocked on our NON P2P/Torrent servers so it is impossible to receive DMCA or any equivalent notice for our NON P2P/Torrent servers.

 

4. We currently accept Paypal, Credit Cards, Bitcoins, Alipay, Unionpay and Webmoney.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 website (use TORRENTFREAKVPN as coupon code for a 25% discount)

 

 

 

Mullvad (**)

1. We keep no logs. This would make both us and our users more vulnerable so we certainly donít.

 

2. We operate under Swedish jurisdiction. We will not expose data to third parties. First of all we take pains to not actually possess information that could be of interest to third parties, to the extent possible. In the end there is no practical way for the Swedish government to get information about our users from us.

 

3. There is no Swedish law equivalent to the DMCA that is applicable to us.

 

4. We accept Bitcoin, cash (in the mail) and PayPal / credit cards. Our accounts are just numbers with no personal information attached, not even an email address. Still, paying through Paypal allows them to associate the account number with the payment forever. People who do not like that should pay with cash or Bitcoin.

Mullvad website

 

 

 

 

Faceless.me (**)

 

1. We keep connection logs in our system, but they contain only depersonalized data, that allows us to optimize traffic routes and make connection more fast. These logs are stored for 7 days, but they are not interesting for anyone. In the event we are sued we can deliver only this information.

 

2. Our company based in Cyprus. Our servers are located in Netherlands and USA and we operate under jurisdictions of these countries [for these servers]. We donít store any information thatís useful to 3rd parties. Any talk about this is possible only by court order.

 

3. We donít have any mechanics to block users, we also have no information about which user the complaint is against but we are developing a system to alert our users in case there is a complaint about their activities.

 

4. We use Plimus Payment System for all user accounts. iPhone / iPad / iPod users can purchase a subscription from an application that can be installed from Apple AppStore. Payment is made through the AppStore billing system. Users of devices based on Android can purchase a subscription from an application that can be installed from Google Play. Payment is made through Google Checkout.

Faceless website

 

 

 

 

IPVanish (**)

1. IPVanish users are given dynamic and shared IP addresses. Essentially, that mixes customer Aís traffic with customer Bís and Cís and so on, making it impossible to single out anyone for anything.

 

The only information that we do collect from a VPN session is: Timestamp (date and server time) of the connection to IPVanish, duration of the connection, IP address used for the connection and bytes transferred. This helps us troubleshoot any connectivity issues a customer may have. And of the small amount of support info we do keep, we purge it regularly.

 

2. IPVanish is a global company based in the US.

 

3. We do not host content of any kind and have nothing to take down or remove.

 

4. We currently accept all major credit cards, PayPal and UltimatePay (which includes 85 different payment methods from 190 countries). UltimatePay also provides many anonymous cash payment options like Western Union, Alipay, Skrill and PaySafeCard.

IPVanish website

 

 

 

 

BlackVPN (**)

1. On our Privacy servers we donít log anything that can identify a single user, but on our US, Canada, UK, Germany & Singapore servers where we donít allow file-sharing. We do log the internal RFC1918 IP that is assigned to the user at a specific time. We never log the real external IP address of the user.

 

We also hold a username and email address of our subscribers, the times of connection and disconnection to our services along with bandwidth consumption.

 

2. We now operate under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong because we worry what the lawmakers in USA and Europe may introduce to make things difficult for proxies and VPNs. We will fiercely protect the privacy and rights of our users and we will not disclose any information on our users to anyone, unless forced to by law enforcement personnel that have produced a court order.

 

3. On our Privacy servers DMCA does not apply (eg USA DMCA to our Swiss server). If we receive a DMCA on our other servers (US, UK, Canada, Germany & Singapore) we generally give the user one warning that they are violating our TOS and their account may be terminated.

 

4. Our payments systems are PayPal, Bitcoin & Liberty Reserve. We have an internal database linking payment references to user accounts. Bitcoin is the most private way to pay, for other payment systems all private billing information is stored with them.

BlackVPN website

 

 

 

 

Ipredator (**)

1. We keep connection logs for debugging purposes, which happens encrypted and off-site. Connection logs contain information for debugging PPTP client issues. We try to store the least amount legally possible anywhere. IP-addresses are encrypted and can only be decrypted by non-support staff to ensure a proper process. For example, to work around issues where the police ruffles up the support staff a bit to get data for an abuse report. In the database we only store the details users give us on sign-up and a limited backlog of payments.

 

2. Sweden.

 

3. Usually we only receive email, therefore we drop anything that has DMCA in the subject. If they want something they need to send us a letter or a fax or send the police. Most of the time we get complaints for running the TPB proxy or the TOR servers.

 

4. PaySafe, BitCoins, PayPal, PaySon, AlertPay

Ipredator website

 

 

 

 

BolehVPN (*)

bolehvpn

1. No we do not keep logs. However as per our policy, if we do notice any unusual activity on our servers (high bandwidth loading, high number of connections or cpu usage) we may turn on logs temporarily to identify abuse of our services (such as DoS or spamming through our servers).

Once the user is identified, we will terminate the offending user, issue him an e-mail for the reason of termination and wipe the logs from our system.

Turning on logs for troubleshooting is a very last resort and is necessary to ensure the integrity of our services. It has happened very rarely (only a handful of times in our 6 years of operation) and such information was not disclosed to third parties but merely used to terminate the offending user. In any case logs were usually enabled for not more than few hours and only for the particular server that was experiencing abuse.

 

2. Weíre a Malaysian incorporated company which is not subject to any mandatory data retention laws. As we donít keep logs, there is not much information to share even when requested.

 

3. Servers hosted in US or categorized as ďsurfing/streamingí have P2P disabled on them. As for other servers, they are not subject to DMCA and we have a good working relationship with our server providers.

In the event DMCA notices or similar are given to us, we normally respond that we donít have such content hosted on our networks and if the provider is adamant, we will terminate our relationship with the server provider and find a new one. We will not reveal the user that generated that DMCA notice (nor can we with no logs taken). Over the years, we have identified server providers that we can work with and understand the nature of our business.

 

4. We accept BitCoin, Liberty Reserve, Paypal and MolPay (Malaysian online bank-ins) and also direct bank-ins for Malaysian users.

For each order, there is an Order ID that is tied to a user name which is marked as paid or not and the method of payment. BitCoins would be the most anonymous form of payment since all other payment processors would require some identifying information. However to sign up to our service, all is needed is a working e-mail and you are free to use placeholder names etc etc. Only in the event of dispute or chargeback cases (especially with credit cards), additional info is requested which is to be expected when using a credit card (unless a prepaid visa is used).

BolehVPN website

 

 

 

 

NordVPN (*)

nordvpn

1. No information is being held at all. Everything runs from a RAM and service does not use HDD.

 

2. We operate under Panama jurisdiction. We are unable to share any information to anyone because we do not keep anything.

 

3. They are ignored because we do not comply with those laws.

 

4. The payment methods are wire transfers, PayPal, 2CHECKOUT. We are currently implementing Bitcoin. Additional payment methods are available upon a contact to us. We only require a working e-mail address to be a customer.

NordVPN website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mastercard and Visa Start...

Banning VPN Providers

July 3, 2013

from TorrentFreak Website

 

 

Following the introduction of restrictions against file-sharing services, Mastercard and Visa have reportedly started to take action against VPN providers. This week, Swedish payment provider Payson cut access to anonymizing services after being ordered to do so by the credit card companies.

 

VPN provider iPredator is one of the affected customers and founder Peter Sunde says that they are considering legal action to get the service unblocked.

 

 

 

 

Payment providers are increasingly taking action against sites and services that are linked to copyright infringement.

 

Thereís an unwritten rule that Mastercard and Visa donít accept file-hosting sites that have an affiliate program and PayPal has thrown out nearly all cyberlockers in recent months.

 

It now appears that these policies have carried over to VPN providers and other anonymizing services.

 

Before the weekend customers of the popular Swedish payment service provider Payson received an email stating that VPN services are no longer allowed to accept Visa and Mastercard payments due to a recent policy change.

ďPayson has restrictions against anonymization (including VPN services). As a result Payson can unfortunately no longer give your customers the option to finance payments via their cards (VISA or MasterCard),Ē the email states, adding that they still accept bank transfers as deposits.

The new policy went into effect on Monday, leaving customers with a two-day window to find a solution.

 

While the email remains vague about why this drastic decision was taken, in a telephone call Payson confirmed that it was complying with an urgent requirement from Visa and Mastercard to stop accepting payments for VPN services.

 

One of these customers is the iPredator VPN, launched by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde and friends.

 

Sunde tells TorrentFreak that he is baffled by the decision, which he believes may be an effort to prevent the public from covering their tracks online and preventing government spying.

ďIt means that US companies are forcing non-American companies not to allow people to protest their privacy and be anonymous, and thus the NSA can spy even more. Itís just INSANE,Ē Sunde says.

Sunde explains that iPredator will always have plenty of other payment options, but sees it as an outrage that Mastercard and Visa have apparently decided to ban a perfectly legal technology.

ďFor iPredator there are always other payment methods, like Bitcoin, but itís insane to censor a totally legit system that is there to avoid censorship and surveillance,Ē Sunde says.

Despite these alternatives, Sunde is not going to stand idly by.

 

He informs TorrentFreak that Ipredator considering taking legal action, citing the Wikileaks win against the credit card companies as a favorable precedent.

 

Ipredator is far from the only VPN provider that is affected by the policy change. Anonine, Mullvad, VPNTunnel, Privatvpn and several others are also using Paysonís services.

 

At this point itís unclear why the two companies are taking a stand against anonymizing services. It seems likely that an industry or authority has been pushing for the policy change behind the scenes.

 

However, with privacy high on the agenda with the PRISM scandal, the move comes at an odd time.

 

TorrentFreak has reached out to Mastercard and Visa but we have yet to hear back from the companies. We are not aware of any other payment service providers who have taken action against VPN providers, so the scope of the actions are unknown at this point.

 

 

Update July 4:

Visa Europe told us that it,

ďhas not been involved in this matter in any way, and has not made any such stipulations to Payson or to any other organization.Ē

Visa believes that the issue was raised by Paysonís acquiring bank, which acts as an intermediary between payment processors and card associations such as Visa and MasterCard.

 

We have asked Payson to clarify the discrepancy and will update the article when we hear back from them.

 

Mastercard has not responded yet.