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August 5, 2012 8:00 PM   Subscribe

What are your recommendations for Anonymous VPN services?

Why did you choose them (over a competitor)? Are they truly anonymous? Do you have any concerns about using them?
Is setup fairly easy, or do you have to be pretty tech savvy?

I have read a fragment or two that indicates there are some out there you can sign up and pay for anonymously as well. What are the mechanics of this? Is taking it that far necessary?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if they meet your required level of anonymity, but in terms of protecting user privacy from government and corporate requests for user data, (which offers VPN access with each account, from IP addresses not linked to your normal non-VPN access) gets excellent marks from the EFF. Setup is as simple as configuring a mail client.
posted by zippy at 8:15 PM on August 5, 2012

I've looked into this. Nothing is foolproof. It also depends on where you are. For example, I'm in the U.S., and I would not feel comfortable using any company headquartered in the U.S. or having any kind of physical presence, even by proxy, such as servers or the like... think about how Megaupload was taken down - the mere fact that they had a couple of servers in the U.S. gave the U.S. all sorts of legal rights to pursue MU. Bottom line - if you are in the U.S., any company in the U.S. is vulnerable and you are trusting in the protocol the company employs that there will be no mistakes like data retention - all you have is their word for it.
posted by VikingSword at 9:37 PM on August 5, 2012

There are a number of questions here, so I'll answer them methodically…

Recommendations for an anonymous VPN service.
I use Mullvad, and am very pleased. I've heard good things about BTGuard. You can find many more recommendations and reviews on /r/VPN.

Why did I choose Mullvad? Are they reliable?
They don't log, the price point is about right, you can pay anonymously (BitCoins), their servers are not based in the U.S. (Sweden or Netherlands… you choose), and there's a short trial available (the trial clinched it for me: I could test speeds).

Mullvad is extremely easy to set up on any environment, as they provide a small application for managing the connection and its settings.

I class them as anonymous-enough for my needs, as I don't need to send any personal information to sign-up and can pay with BitCoins if I choose to do so. I am, instead, identified using a randomly-assigned number.

I have one reservation about using them: I do not understand how they manage to prevent abuse of their trial service if they do not store any logs whatsoever. For example, I once tried to use their trial on a second PC to check the compatibility of their client. The trial was disallowed. Without logging my IP address (something they don't do, apparently), I couldn't figure out why this happened (I was automatically given a new used-id, etc.).

The 'mechanics' of paying anonymously? Is this taking it too far?
Like with Mullvad, a number of pseudo-anonymous VPN services allow you to pay using BitCoins and don't request any personally-identifying information when signing up. The mechanics are very simple: the system will give you a randomly-generated user-id and you need to pay using BitCoins or in cash (sent to them with your user-id). While BitCoins aren't inherently anonymous, they can be.

(A discussion on how to use BitCoins is an entirely different question, but preliminary queries are likely answered on the BitCoin wiki's FAQ page.)

Some say that by allowing you to pay with BitCoins, a company is proving their commitment to anonymity and therefore it's OK to pay by card. I disagree, but that's just my opinion.

Is this going too far? It depends on your needs, right? For me, it undoubtedly is going too far (I don't do anything remotely illegal, and just like an extra layer of anonymity when doing certain things). However, if you're a big-time BitTorrent user and live in certain countries… it may not be enough. In that case, you may want to look into Seedboxes.
posted by fakelvis at 11:55 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've used Swissvpn but moved to a new service after reading this:

... which is a roundup of the various legal stances of certain VPN providers.

If you're really, really paranoid I would look into private Tor networks instead of VPN.

People like and their XB Browser.

But this would suck for Torrenting, if that's all you're interested in.
posted by bhance at 9:37 PM on August 6, 2012

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