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Why Do VPNs Need To Be GDPR Compliant?

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The past few months have been abuzz with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and how online businesses, including VPN providers, have updated their privacy policies.

How does GDPR protect internet users in general?

GDPR is applicable on all companies that process, store, log, or share personal data of European citizens, regardless of what part of the world the businesses hail from. Failure to comply with any of the GDPR policies can result in heavy financial penalties.

The GDPR makes it mandatory for all companies to provide users with an easy-to-understand privacy policy. Companies also need to provide an opt-out option for users who do not want to give their consent to share their data. In an event of breach, the company would need to inform its users about the breach within 72 hours and without any unnecessary delays. All users will be provided with options to download all of their data that they have provided to a specific company, a detailed log of how that data has been used in the past, and an option to edit or delete any of that data.

Why VPNs needed to keep logs in the past

The two main types of logs that VPNs keep are connection logs and browsing logs. As the name suggests, browsing logs are a comprehensive report on every individual about all of their online activities, communication, online transactions, and other intricate details.

Unfortunately, majority of the VPN providers that operated from within the US were required by law to keep browsing logs. Moreover, failure to produce logs upon legal notice could have resulted in cancellation of licenses for the VPN provider.

It is worth noting that not all VPNs keep logs, but the ones that are based in countries such as the US, UK, or EU are legally bound to keep logs to be able to produce them when legally required. This compromises the entire concept of getting privacy and security from a VPN.

The second type of logs is known as connection logs. Many people confuse connection logs with browsing logs and start losing trust in their VPN provider after finding out that their VPN provider keeps connection logs. It is worth noting that without connection logs, no online service, let alone VPN providers, can operate. A connection log typically includes your name, email address, IP address, and connection timestamps. Without having record of this information, it will be impossible to authorize connection for users, or know when their account is expiring.

How will GDPR change VPN’s logging policies

With the GDPR taking its toll on the VPN industry, a few things will change for good. Most importantly, no VPN provider will be keeping browsing logs on any of its user, as it would be a criminal offence to do so without users’ consent. However, connection logs would still be kept. In the future, violation of privacy on any level will be dealt legally. It renders any violation an illegal act, which is off course a criminal offence.

All VPN providers and cybersecurity companies secure all of their sensitive data, which in this case is connection logs. Keeping the connection logs encrypted will ensure the ultimate privacy and security for users’ personal information and data.

This will put an end to the endless online debate about which VPN keeps logs and which one does not. Every VPN will become log-less, and every VPN will provide its users with an option to delete their connection logs if they desire.

Why do VPNs need to be GDPR compliant?

Now that GDPR is the data protection law, VPN providers have never been happier. Previously, they were legally required to keep logs, even though they hated it. Now they are no longer required to do so. In fact, logging users personal information, and sharing it with anyone without prior consent will be treated as a criminal offence. This is indeed a moment of relief and celebration for both, the VPN providers as well as their customers.

Every VPN that is providing its services in Europe, or has its servers based in the continent, has to abide by all regulations and policies being implemented by GDPR. Failure to do so can result in regional bans over VPN providers, barring them from providing their services to those living in Europe.

It is worth noting that the VPN providers are only required to be compliant with GDPR when providing services to those users who are living in Europe. However, many VPN providers have welcomed the change with open hands and have begun implementing the GDPR complaint privacy policy across the globe, in a bid to provide more privacy and protection to their users.

Wrapping this up: final word

GDPR is the first step taken towards making the internet a better and safer place for humans. It primarily revolves around protecting the users and their personal information, and allows companies to do business within the mentioned guidelines.

Written by Anas Baig Security Consultant

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/vpns-gdpr-compliant/

Image: shutterstock.com

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Guest Monday, 23 July 2018

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