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5 Best VPNs for Sweden That Work in 2017

Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper

August 21, 2017

Sweden is a happy, prosperous land with a well educated population and excellent infrastructure. Unfortunately, as in many such nations, the government is constantly grappling to define its attitude to internet freedoms. More than 91% of Swedes are connected to the internet. As such, any restrictions on digital freedom will affect the majority of the population. Thus the government has to be cautious on how far it pushes internet monitoring and restrictions.

The law in Sweden requires all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to retain extensive connection logs for six months. However, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) invalidated that law at the end of 2016. The Swedish government has been trying to enforce data retention laws since 2003. These moves have been almost entirely at the behest of the European Union. The current law, which is now in tatters, was implemented in 2012. It was in response to a directive from the EU, which was issued in 2006.

Quick Links to our 5 best VPNs for Sweden

  1. Buffered
  2. AirVPN
  3. PrivateVPN
  4. VPNArea
  5. NordVPN

It is difficult to know from one day to the next when the next move by the EU or the Swedish government will come into play. The government introduces data retention laws, and then courts throw them out.

This maddening legal see-saw means you might think that your privacy has been protected, only to discover that your ISP still has data from a period when it collected activity logs. You could be arrested for your activities on the strength of that information. The case against you would eventually be quashed, but you won’t get any compensation for the time you lost or the problems the court case caused you with your employer, family, landlord and so forth. If you are unjustly prosecuted, you’ll need legal representation. Those lawyers won’t give you your money back once they’ve done their job and got the case thrown out!

The Swedish government hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for data retention laws. In 2013, it was fined by the ECJ for taking too long to implement the 2006 EU directive. That original directive allowed national governments to choose their own data retention period. The EU laid down a range of between six months and two years. The Swedish government chose the shortest period allowed – six months. Ironically, just one year after the ECJ slapped the Swedish government’s wrists for not being enthusiastic enough about data retention, it threw out the law for being too draconian. The appeals and clarification of those conflicting orders finally concluded at the end of 2016. During the period from 2014 to the beginning of 2017, the law was unevenly applied. Some ISPs refused to comply, while others stored activity logs in compliance with the law.

The simplest way to protect yourself from the shifting sands of data retention legislation in Sweden is to block your ISP from identifying your activity. Your ISP is your computer’s first point of contact with the internet. As such, every piece of data that leaves your home and goes into it goes via your ISP. You cannot bypass your ISP. However, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your internet privacy in Sweden.

You can read further down in this review how VPNs protect your activities. We also look at how they prevent ISPs from recording what you are doing online. First, why not take a look at our list of recommended VPNs for Sweden?

Best VPNs for Sweden: Summary

BestVPN Editor's Choice Award
Buffered Homepage
PROS:
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Up to five simultaneous connections allowed
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS
  • Manual installation for DD-WRT and Tomato routers
  • No logs policy
CONS:
  • Can't get into all streaming services

Buffered is a great service for gamers. Its server network centres on Europe. There is a Buffered server in Sweden, if you just want to get your connections through your ISP without it seeing who you are connected to. You will get a faster service if you connect to a VPN that is geographically close to you than if all of your traffic has to be ricocheted through a server on the other side of the world. Buffered is very good at getting through deep packet inspection and it should serve you well in keeping your internet traffic secret in Sweden.

Check out the best VPN for Sweden!

Visit Buffered »30-day money-back guarantee

2. Best VPN for Sweden: AirVPN

AirVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • No logs
  • Kill switch
  • IP leak protection
  • Strong security
  • Port forwarding
CONS:
  • Only three simultaneous connections allowed
  • Relatively small server network

As our AirVPN review states - it's a VPN for those with technical expertise. If you understand the terminology around internet protocols you can get more out of this VPN by customizing its settings. The server network is not so large, with a presence in only 18 countries. However, Sweden is on the list. This VPN is great at getting through government checks and ISP inspection undetected - it even gets through the Great Firewall of China. The owners and operators of this Italian-based service are adamant about protecting their customers' privacy and would never cooperate with the authorities.

3. Best VPN for Sweden: PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 55 countries including Sweden
  • No logs
  • P2P allowed
  • Up to six simultaneous connections allowed
CONS:
  • Based in Sweden

PrivateVPN is based in Sweden and has servers in 55 countries, including two locations in Sweden -- Stockholm and Kista. The technical support team is very competent and available around the clock via live chat. If you can't understand their instructions they can take over your computer remotely and fix the problem for you. You get an allowance of six simultaneous connections with this service, so you can cut the cost of having a VPN by sharing an account with others. The company is OK with users accessing P2P networks through the VPN and it keeps no logs. The service has good speeds to help your downloads progress quickly.

4. Best VPN for Sweden: VPNArea

VPNArea Homepage
PROS:
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • No logs
  • Specialized servers for P2P downloading and streaming
  • Up to six simultaneous connections allowed
  • Good cloaking technology
CONS:
  • Live chat for support not available 24/7

VPNArea has servers in 68 countries, including Sweden. The company ensures that it has one server for every 250 customers. This keeps spare capacity on the infrastructure and ensures that customers don't experience slow connections because of crowding. If you ever intend to travel to China and get access to websites and streaming services in Sweden from there, this VPN would be your best choice. This VPN is very good at evading detection. It can get through the Great Firewall of China and it can get past the proxy detection systems of streaming services, including Netflix.

5. Best VPN for Sweden: NordVPN

NordVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 61 countries
  • No logs
  • Up to six simultaneous connections allowed
  • Gets into Netflix
CONS:
  • Customer support can be slow

NordVPN has 1,081 servers in 61 countries, including a server in Sweden. This is another VPN that is very good at getting around the regional restrictions on streaming services, including Netflix. The company has set its prices at a very competitive level - it's the cheapest VPN on this list. The service gets even cheaper if you are prepared to take out a two-year subscription and pay up front. NordVPN allows up to six simultaneous connections. It is fine with people sharing an account, so that gives you another way to make this service even cheaper.

VPNs for Sweden: Considerations

Copyright infringement is one of the biggest areas of illegal activity on the internet in Sweden. Thanks to the high profile of The Pirate Bay, Sweden has a reputation as a hub for torrenting. The Swedish government doesn’t like that.

Sweden’s implementation of the EU Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) has been strongly reinforced by court rulings since 2012. This forces ISPs to collect and hand over details of their customers’ peer-to-peer (P2P) activities. The ECJ ruling against the country’s data retention laws does not impact on the IPRED laws. Thus, ISPs are obliged to monitor your activities and block file sharing. They are also obliged to cooperate with the police, should they choose to investigate your file sharing.

ISP Snooping

All of your internet traffic passes through your ISP’s servers. As such, it’s easy for your ISP to see what you are doing. It can also divert your traffic, block or log it, or even notify the authorities. A program processes each piece of data that passes through the ISP computer. Small changes in the data processing software can create monitoring opportunities. The ISP uses keywords in its monitoring programs to fish out specific data from your connections.

Every piece of information that traverses the internet has a header at the front. The header and payload structure form the “packet.” The header contains the packet’s source and destination addresses. This information instantly gives the ISP control over what happens to the packet. More sophisticated programs can look inside packets to read their contents. This inspection doesn’t really slow down the packet’s journey and is almost undetectable.

You don’t only have to worry about data retention laws. A court order can force an ISP to hand over all the information they have on you, including your address. Police or the secret service can request that an ISP monitor your traffic to collect data. Court orders can also prevent ISPs from telling the targets of investigations what information they have handed over. Thus, the police can gather data to make a case against you without you knowing.

Throttling

ISPs also have their own agendas. File sharing annoys ISPs because it uses up bandwidth. The advent of Spotify, Netflix, and HBO Nordic means that most Swedes can now get all of the entertainment they want legally. However, streaming music and video uses as much bandwidth as torrenting. The cost of providing bandwidth for these applications squeezes ISPs’ profit margins.

When you subscribe to an internet service, you sign up for stated speeds for an advertised price. The ISP has to stick to that level of service, otherwise it could be sued or shut down for fraud.

Although ISPs have to treat all those who’ve signed up to the same plan equally, there do have some elbow room that enables them to cut costs. They don’t have to deliver the headline speeds all the time, nor make the same bandwidth available to all applications. Thus, some ISPs engage in a practice called “throttling.” This is the selective slowing of specific applications.

In order to switch streaming and gaming connections on to slower, cheaper connections, the ISP needs to be able to read the packets that pass through its equipment. This is where “deep packet inspection” comes in. The ISP can build up a black list of destination address. It can block access to certain sites, such as The Pirate Bay, and switch Netflix connections to slower lines. VPNs block these strategies.

VPN Anonymity

The VPN software that you download onto your computer encrypts packets. It even hides the address information. Routers need to see the destination address, otherwise they can’t pass on the packets to neighboring routers. As such, VPN software puts each encrypted packet inside another packet and addresses that outer packet to its own server. The server that the packets are sent to depends on which location you choose before you turn the VPN on.

This process is called “tunneling” because it hides your traffic for part of its journey. It stays secret until it passes through the VPN server. It then continues on its way to its intended destination with the original packet headers visible. The VPN server puts its own IP address as the source of the packet, so the server that receives it doesn’t know your real location. This second layer of anonymity enables you to access streaming and gaming servers overseas. These sites usually block access from abroad. However, if you select a VPN location in the same country as the streaming service that you want to access, you will get around those blocks.

VPN Legality in Sweden

VPNs are completely legal in Sweden. Despite the government’s attempts to create an enduring data retention law, it has never tried to force those rules on VPNs. All data gathering responsibility in Sweden, both for data retention obligations and for copyright protection, falls on the ISPs. Therefore, if you use a VPN to block your ISP from logging your connections, you’ve done nothing wrong. Whether the activities that the VPN masks are illegal is another matter.

Best VPNs for Sweden: Conclusion

The Swedish government has to tread carefully when it tries to control access to the internet because whoever is in power wants to be re-elected. The very high percentage of Swedes with internet access means that the government has to handle the issue of data retention and copyright control sensitively.

When you use the internet in Sweden, your main enemy is not the Swedish government, but the EU. The EU hasn’t given up the fight to try to force new data retention laws on member states. It has set up a “Digital Single Market” directive that aims to unify all internet controls into its own remit. This seemingly logical unification of different laws across EU territories cloaks a centralization of power into the hands of unelected commissioners, who aren’t subject to the pressures of re-election. Unsurprisingly, this drive towards centralization also includes harsher measures to enforce intellectual property rights. It will make it harder for local courts to throw out enforcement in the name of privacy.

As such, the need for individuals to take direct steps to protect their online privacy in Sweden is going to become more urgent. Stay ahead of the authorities and protect yourself right now! Any of the services that made it into our list of the top five VPNs for Sweden will keep you safe on the internet.

Image Credit: garagestock/Shutterstock.com
Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper is a techy geek with a social edge. Downshifting from a successful IT career in Europe, Cooper moved to the Caribbean and now keeps up to speed with Internet technology poolside.

4 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Sweden That Work in 2017

  1. Hello. I’ve arrived Sweden two weeks ago. I have a subscription in Windscribe currently. Would this be enough for hiding well from my ISP? And, is it illegal to use P2P nowadays in Sweden? I can’t get that clear.

    Thanks. Great article, I was looking for something like this since weeks.

    1. Hi Steel,

      Yes – Windscribe is a good VPN service, and will hide your internet activity from your ISP. And yes, P2P is illegal in Sweden. If you have yet to choose a Swdeish ISP, Bahnhof has consistently consistently championed its customers privacy.

  2. I have used privateinternetaccess now for month and there are 2 minuses that are not discussed anywhere.
    1. After activating your service you start to receive a lot more spam (penis enlargement, viagra etc). I am sure that it is connected with activation, because spam started almoust immediately after I installed software and used my e-mail account.
    2. For unknown reasons the connection shuts down each time I close PC (icon stays red even after turning connection ON). So I have to remember, that before going to internet I must turn software on again (not a big problem, but still).

    1. Hi Simone,

      Your second point is a good one (we reviewed PIA on a desktop PC so the issue never arose for us). I have to admit that we didn’t notice any increase in spam when we used PIA, although that could just be that our spam filters caught it…

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