Virtual Private Network: Logging Issues
The two main reasons why customers chose to use a VPN service are to unblock content and to gain privacy. Your online browsing history is your business only, and many people are uncomfortable with sharing their internet habits with their internet service providers, mobile phone companies or hotel wifi.
Unlike these services, a VPN company builds their brand and business around the promise of ensuring the privacy of their users. A good VPN company will not keep logs of your internet activity, and it is worth checking the website or terms of service of your provider to see if they do!
Any kind of personal data is delicate, but not all is easy to discard. Financial logs for example are also more a liability than an asset to your VPN provider, but much more difficult to delete. Records are legally required to be kept for years, and removing personally identifying information is impossible or illegal. And additionally to that records are replicated along a wide range of payment and accounting services, banks and financial institutions, regulators, jurisdictions that can use these records and identify you as the customer of a specific service years after you used it.
While not perfectly anonymous, Bitcoin does remove third parties from the payments process while providing a fast and reliable way to pay online without additional fees or hassle. With Bitcoin you don’t risk to tie your online identity to your real name in an obvious way, which has huge implications for those relying on their privacy to stay safe from personal attacks or doxing.
How you use Bitcoin is entirely up to you.
The primary objective should be to control your private keys yourself, so store your Bitcoins in an open-source wallet on your computer or mobile device. Also, be conscious of where your coins come from and how that can be used to identify you, so keep multiple wallets for each separate identity that you maintain. For additional privacy you can route your transactions through Tor or use Bitcoin mixing services. Unless you are facing a very sophisticated adversary it will probably be enough to simply make a few transactions between yourself to increase the hoops between the service where you bought the Bitcoins and where you spend them.
When acquiring Bitcoins you also have many options of privacy. Maybe you find a Bitcoin ATM nearby you that does not ask intruding questions about your identity, or you can buy Bitcoins from somebody in person, or accept it for donations or services. Again, don’t mix Bitcoins that you worked hard to anonymize with Bitcoins you know could be associated with your real name, or else your efforts might be worthless!
Your VPN provider wants to know as little as possible about you, and when you use Bitcoins you take a huge burden off them: your financial data.
“This article was written by Arthur Baxter. He is the Network Operations Analyst at ExpressVPN, a leading privacy advocate and sponsor of the EFF, and Fight For the Future. ExpressVPN offers secure VPN services for all your apps, have a strict no logging policy and accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.