With so many VPNs on the market, it is more important than ever to know what to look for in a trustworthy VPN service.
Choosing the right VPN can be tricky. It seems there are a million different services out there, all of them claiming to be the "most private" and the "most secure".
And unfortunately, many of those claims are false.
There have been VPN providers that promised not to keep logs – but still did. Many providers promised to protect your data – but turned it over the first time they were asked. And then there are the VPN services that fail to disclose conflicts of interest such as running fake "VPN review" websites to push their brand.
You trust your VPN to have your back and when they don’t, you’re left vulnerable.
That’s the motivation behind the Center for Democracy and Technology’s creation of the Signals for Trustworthy VPNs. The CDT is a non-profit based in Washington DC, and they’re asking VPN providers to give clear answers to some important questions.
Questions for Determining a Trustworthy VPN
The CDT has a series of questions for VPN services which are intended to find out the following:
- Who owns the VPN, what country they’re based in, and whether they own other VPN services?
- Whether the owners run a VPN review site?
- How the service makes money?
- If the VPN keeps logs?
- What steps they take to protect user data?
- How the service responds to requests from law enforcement?
These are definitely great questions, as they address all of the potential vulnerabilities that users should be concerned with. Unfortunately, they’re not fool proof.
If a company is willing to lie about its logging practices on its website, for instance, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t lie in their answers to CDT. As far as we know, CDT is not committing resources to independently verify the claims.
But it does force VPNs to give clear, direct answers to pressing questions – and will hopefully make them more accountable.
In that way, it’s a step in the right direction.
Active Partners and Complying VPN Services
Five VPN services chose to team up with the CDT for this initiative and published their answers in October. They are:
You can find the answers for each VPN on the CDT’s website and the sites for the respective VPNs.
Which other providers will step up to the plate? And will this effort deter VPNs from making false claims and using misleading advertising?
Only time will tell.
Also, keep in mind that just because a VPN service is not on the CDT list, this does not mean the VPN can't be trusted. For example, two of our top recommended VPN services - NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) - are not on the CDT list but we would (and have!) bet our Internet privacy on these VPN providers for many years, including for sensitive and controversial online activities.
But the CDT's transparent Q&A list should force more VPN services to up their game.