Although Norway has until recently enjoyed a very unrestricted internet, new legislation aimed primarily at blocking websites deemed to be promoting or facilitating copyright infringement, and for chasing down individual filesharers has recently come into force. In addition this, the EU’s Data Retention Directive has recently been transposed into national law.
The Best VPNs for Norway
EU Data Retention Directive
Norway is not a member of the European Union, and is therefore not bound by EU directives such as the heinous mandatory Data Retention Directive. However, it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), and following pressure due to increasing economic isolation from other European countries, and broad support for the measures from the county’s Conservative Party, Norway has transposed the Directive into national law (specifically as amendments to the Communications Act (2003/83) and the Criminal Procedure Act (1981/25)). The changes were due to come into effect in April 2012, although we have been unable to determine whether this has in fact happened (Wikipedia reports that the changes will not come into effect until 1 January 2015, but we are unable to confirm this).
Like Sweden, Norway has only made provision for retaining data for 6 months (unlike the 12 months required by the EU Directive). Also, whether the new laws apply to VPN services located within Norway (as they do not in Sweden, for example), we simply don’t know.
New amendments to the Copyright Act
On July 1 2013 (in a few days’ time when writing this article), new amendments to Norway’s Copyright Act 1961 will bring censorship to Norway in the form of website blocking, in addition to providing a legal framework for copyright holders to actively pursue infringers.
In 2009 leading Norwegian ISP Telnor managed to defeat legal pressure from copyright groups to block certain websites such as The Pirate Bay, with a court ruling they had no legal obligation to do so. This led to mounting pressure from trade groups such as the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and TONO (a Norwegian corporation that administers copyrights for music in Norway) to ‘close the holes’.
This hasn’t taken long, and in May 2011 the Minister of Culture announced the changes to Copyright Act so that rightholders would have the ‘tools they need’. As noted, the amendments come into force this summer, and include two important aspects.
Instead of a single licensed entity monitoring online file-sharing, from July any rightsholder or trade body is permitted to do this, as long as they notify Norway’s data inspectorate beforehand. Norway’s trade groups are already forming an alliance (similar to the Swedish Antipiratbyran and Danish Rettighedsalliancen, and supported by the notorious anti-piracy legal firm Simonsen) aimed at investigating piracy and enforcing copyright holders rights. Exactly how this is to be achieved has yet to be decided, but the bodies involved have indicated they would prefer to go the ‘strikes’ route before taking legal action.
The second aspect of the new legislation is the blocking of websites involved in copyright infringement. The 2009 judgment in favor of Telnor still stands, but future judgments will have to take the new legislation into account.
Using a VPN in Norway
Although we do not know how the Data Retention Directive affects Norwegian VPN services, there is probably a reason most providers do not choose Norway as a location for their servers. Fortunately, although also subject to the Directive, in countries such Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and Switzerland (which is not in the EU but has its own similar legislation) the Directive does not apply to VPN services. Unsurprisingly, these are popular counties to locate VPN servers in (all the providers below have servers in at least some of these locations), and are all close enough to Norway for lag to be a negligible issue.
- Our Score
- Visit Site
- $3.33PER MONTH
- Easy-to-use software
- Excellent speeds
- Good customer service
- Bit pricy
- Bit pricy
ExpressVPN have been around for a while, and have slowly and methodically built a great company. When we tested them their speeds were excellent, the sofware was really easy to use, and their 24/7 customer service also delivered on the promises.
Their pricing is not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for. As I said above, the price is worth these positive points. The company boasts servers in 78 different countries, which means you can appear to be in any country you want.
- No logs
- Great attitude to privacy
- Very fast
- Accepts Bitcoin
- VPN client has some great features
- P2P: yes
- Android app
- Pre-configured routers available
- US company
When it comes to both privacy and features, Private Internet Access is hard to beat. Keeping no logs whatever (although US based servers are best avoided), using shared IPs, and accepting Bitcoin payment, PIA believes passionately in privacy. It also has a great Windows and OSX VPN client with an internet kill switch, DNS leak protection, IPv6 leak protection and port forwarding. An Android app and a selection of DD-WRT and Tomato routers are also available. In fact we love PIA, which makes it a shame that, in the wake of the NSA scandal, it is a US company. With VPN providers it all comes down to trust, and we do trust PIA, but the fact remains that it is a US company…
- P2P: yes (on some servers)
- ‘up to’ 256-bit SSTP and OpenVPN encryption
- 2 simultaneous connections
- iOS app
- Android app
- 3 days money back guarantee
- Servers all over the world
- Keeps logs (but based in Hong Kong)
Those looking for a company with a big international (outside Europe) presence might want to consider PureVPN, as it has servers in a staggering 43 counties, including Asia, Africa and South America. It also features both iOS and Android apps, ‘up to’ 256-bit SSTP and OpenVPN encryption, and a 3 day money back guarantee. The biggest problem with PureVPN is that it keeps logs, but as it is a Hong Kong based company, this is unlikely to be a huge concern as enforcing DMCA notices or legal demands against Hong Kong providers is very difficult.
- Accepts Bitcoin
- No logs
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Dynamic port forwarding
- Real-time user and server statistics
- Support for Tor over VPN and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels
- Good speeds
- 3 day free trial
- P2P: yes
If security is important to you, then the excellent AirVPN may be just what you are looking for. In addition to using super-secure 256-bit AES encryption, AirVPN is the only provider we know of to support Tor over VPN, and VPN tunneling through SSL or SSH layers. Activists and hactivists who met at a Pirate Party festival in Rome, it goes without saying that AirVPN keeps no logs and accepts Bitcoins. In fact it goes further, and proudly conforms to various EU privacy directives (not the Data Retention Directive which does not apply to VPNs in Italy) and voluntary codes of Best Practice.
- No logs
- Great free service
- Groovy VPN client
- P2P: yes
- VPN client is Windows only (although OpenVPN setup guides are provided for other platforms)
- Does not accept Bitcoin
Although we are of the opinion that it is the mark of a good VPN provider to accept anonymous payment via Bitcoin, CyberGhost makes up for this lack with a very generous 30 day free trial of its Premium service (and a rather good free service). It also keeps no logs, and supplies a well featured (including an internet kill switch) OpenVPN client.
Norway’s days of almost total internet freedom are over, with July 1 marking a very dark day in its history (and one that is probably, and rather depressingly, will be totally overlooked by the majority of Norway’s population). Fortunately, using a VPN service allows you regain this freedom with minimal cost and effort, and located in Europe, residents of Norway are spoilt for choice when it comes to good VPN providers.
And here’s the summary once more: