A Large Number of Top Free VPN Apps Either Have Chinese Ownership or Are Based in China
Monday January 21, 2019. 03:25 PM , from Slashdot
William Chalk, reporting for HackerNoon: After big names like Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Facebook, VPNs are the most searched-for applications in the world. 'VPN' is the second-highest non-branded search term behind 'games', and free apps completely dominate the search results. The most popular applications have amassed hundreds of millions of installs between them worldwide, yet there seems to be very little attention paid to the companies behind them, and very little scrutiny done on behalf of the marketplaces hosting them. We investigated the top free VPN apps in the App Store and Google Play Store. We found that very few of these hugely popular apps do anywhere near enough to deserve the trust of those looking to protect their privacy online. We recorded the top 20 free apps in the search results for 'VPN' in the App and Play Store for UK and US locales. In total, these applications have been downloaded 80 million times from Google and 4 million times each month from Apple. Our investigation discovered that over half of the top free VPN apps either have Chinese ownership or are actually based in China, which has aggressively clamped down on VPN services in recent years and maintains an iron grip on the internet within its borders. Furthermore, we found the majority of these apps have insufficient formal privacy protections and non-existent user support.
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