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5 Best VPNs for Sweden

In many ways, with an internet penetration of 94 percent, connection prices far below the European average, and boasting the seventh fastest internet speeds in the world, Sweden is a haven for internet users.

In addition to this, Sweden has almost no censorship, and has traditionally had a fairly relaxed attitude to copyright infringement (but see our discussion below). In addition to this, the EU Data Retention Directive (DRD) was never applied to VPN providers under local implantation of the law, all factors which contribute to Sweden being a popular location for VPN providers to locate servers, as well as being home to number of home-grown VPN services.

When it comes to surveillance however, things are not so rosy. All communications in and out of the country are monitored by Swedish Defence Radio Authority (FRA) – Sweden’s equivalent of the NSA – who have a close working relationship with their US counterparts and who are pushing for alarming new surveillance powers. We will discuss all these issues in some detail after we have looked at our pick of VPNs for Sweden.


Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

Buffered Logo $10/mo

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2

logo $9.00/mo

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3

logo $6.95/mo

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4

vpnarea_logo $9.90/mo

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5

logo $11/mo

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Winner

Buffered

  • PROS
  • Built for streaming
  • Fast speeds
  • Excellent design and usability
  • CONS
  • Slightly higher priced

Buffered is a brand new VPN company who have been growing fast. They have servers in 15 different countries, all the major ones where you would want to connect to (including Sweden). We really like the look and feel of the company, they are a true startup with good customer service.

Since they are based in Hungary security wise they are independent of big snooping governments like the US and UK, and they have shared IPs, which is really secure. They also allow 3 simultaneous connections so you can watch on plenty of devices.

Their software is really easy to use. While their pricing is a bit higher than normal, it’s worth it for the extra service.

Try Out the Best VPN for Sweden Today!

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2nd place

AirVPN

  • PROS
  • 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
  • Servers all over Europe incl. NL, Luxemburg, Romania, Sweden
  • CONS
  • 0 simultaneous connections by default (but more can be purchased)

From a technical standpoint, AirVPN is probably the best VPN provider we have come across. It uses 256-bit AES encryption, provides ‘network transparency’ with a series of beautifully presented server information graphs, and supports ultra-stealth VPN technologies such as VPN over Tor, and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels.

The AirVPN crew, activists and hactivists who met at a Pirate Party festival in Rome, also have a sterling attitude to privacy, keeping no logs, accepting Bitcoin payment, and voluntarily subscribing to various EU privacy directives and codes of best practice (but not the Data Retention Directive which, as in Switzerland, does not apply in Italy). The only downsides to AirVPN are that its VPN client is a bit basic, and it only allows one device to be connected to its service at a time.

» Visit AirVPN


3rd place

PIA

  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Up to 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption
  • Client features port forwarding
  • VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • 5 simultaneous connection
  • Servers in Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland (and France)
  • CONS
  • No free trial
  • US based company
  • Mac users seem to find the client difficult to configure

In terms of features and overall dedication to privacy, Private Internet Access has always been a leader in its field, which makes the fact that it is a US company all the more painful.

Nevertheless, the fact that PIA keeps no logs at all, accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins, uses shared IPs to make individual identification of users very difficult, has recently improved its encryption cyphers to up to 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption, with SHA-256 hash authentication and 4096-bit RSA handshake encryption, together with the fact that it has one of the most useful and feature-filled Windows and OSX custom VPN clients on the market, with DNS leak protection, IPv6 leak protection, port forwarding and an internet kill switch, means that PIA remains a top contender for those less worried about NSA intrusion.

» Visit PIA


4th place

VPNArea

VPNArea

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Based in Bulgaria (no DRD)
  • 5 simultaneous devices
  • Uses shared IPs (although currently there are not enough people to share them with)
  • Good speeds
  • Great Windows client
  • Great customer service
  • Accepts Bitcoins
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • New company so may experience teething problems

VPNArea is a new provider on our radar, but one which impressed us mightily thanks to a completely no logs policy, good performance results, up to 5 simultaneous connections, it accepts anonymous payment via Bitcoins, has a fantastic Windows client with DNS leak protection, a per-app kill switch, auto-IP changer, and server statistics, while also having one of the friendliest and most helpful support staff we have come across.

IPs are shared, which will be great for privacy when VPNArea attracts more customers, and P2P downloading is not a problem. For such a small start-up company, this Bulgarian VPN has a very sizable international presence, including servers in Sweden and most other European (and many non-European) countries.

» Visit VPNArea


5th place

NordVPN

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin payments
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers in Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Romania
  • CONS
  • Inconsistent connection speeds

Based in Panama, NordVPN does not have to worry about either the NSA or EU surveillance. It has a ‘no logs at all’ policy, uses 256-bit AES encryption, and accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins. It has also recently rolled out a new ‘double encryption’ feature, were data is passed between two server nodes between you and the internet, being encrypted each time, which sounds fantastic, and it fully supports Tor over VPN as well. NordVPN has servers all over Europe including in Sweden. If you really want to move away from services in more regulated counties, NordVPN is an excellent option.

» Visit NordVPN


VPN issues in Sweden

The EU Data Retention Directive

Sweden was always very reluctant about the 2006 EU Data Retention Directive (which required telecoms providers to store data such as websites visited, phone call made, emails sent etc. for at least 12 months).

When it had still not been implemented the DRD into local law in 2010, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was forced make a ruling demanding that it do so, but when it was eventually implemented the law in 2012, Sweden reduced the minimum retention time to 6 months.

In 2013 the ECJ imposed a €3 million penalty on Sweden for failing to fulfill its obligations under European Law in delaying local implementation of the DRD for so long, but in April of this year (2014) it declared the DRD invalid for ‘interfer[ing] in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data.’

As with most other European countries, the state of play therefore remains very uncertain, as the local implementation of the law remains in effect, even though it has been declared invalid by the ECJ.

The situation is Sweden is complicated even further however, because following the ECJ ruling ISP Bahnhof, quickly followed by ISPs Telia, Tele2, and Three, have on their own initiative not only stopped collecting customers’ data, but have also permanently deleted all old records, and neither the Swedish Prosecution Authority or the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) have shown any interest in pursuing the matter further.

All of this does however not directly affect VPN services, as in its minimal interpretation if the DRD when transposed into national law, Sweden never applied it to VPN providers.

Government Surveillance

Even before Sweden passed the FRA law in, 2009 Privacy International ranked Sweden’s privacy protection ‘second worst in EU’.

The FRA law, however, gave the National Defence Radio Authority (Försvarets radioanstalt, FRA) powers to warrantlessly wiretap all telephone and Internet traffic that crossed Sweden’s borders’, in order to combat ‘foreign threats’ (something which it has been suspected of doing long beforehand). Following public outcry over the legislation being too far reaching though, the FRA law was quickly amended to require a court order on a case by case basis.

However, although FRA law surveillance is only supposed to target cross border communications, there is plenty of evidence that, as with its NSA and GHCQ partners, the FRA has used it as a framework for indiscriminate bulk collection of data. In addition to this, documents obtained from Edward Snowden show that Sweden has partnered with the NSA and GHCQ in their ‘Five Eyes’ alliance, and freely passes on information collected to its spying buddies.

Furthermore, in November last year Sweden’s Ny Teknik magazine (followed up by many others) revealed government plans to allow not just the FRA, but the police, customs official, and tax authorities (!!!) to monitor all email and phone calls in real-time, in a move that effectively wiretaps everybody warrantlessly all the time. Details of how telecoms bills are paid, and the PUK number of subscribers mobile phones (enabling police to activate a SIM card without the subscriber’s PIN code) would also be available.

Almost as alarming as this huge increase in surveillance powers are the tactics used achieve them. Forgoing public consultation, the government has chosen to circumvent the entire legislative process and instead bully ISPs into compliance. How far this policy has progressed since last November we have been unable to determine, but it is fairly safe to say that government spying is a major problem in Sweden.

How this might affect VPN services, we discuss below.

Copyright piracy

Unsurprisingly, copyright piracy is popular in Sweden, especially among young people, and in the past the laws have been fairly relaxed in regards to it. However in 2009 Sweden transposed the EU directive on intellectual property rights enforcement (IPRED) into local law (a legal challenge on human rights grounds was quashed by the European Court of Justice in 2012).

Local implementation of the law allows heavy file sharers to be jailed, and compels ISPs to hand over suspects’ details upon a court order. Swedish implementation of IPRED does not however cut off offenders internet access, and Swedish courts have ruled that the right to privacy of suspected occasional file sharers trumps the interests of copyright holders, which has limited the scope of the law to serious cases (such as this one).

After an initial scare (evidenced by a 30 percent drop in Internet traffic!), Swedish users started to adopt VPN in order to carry on P2P downloading as before, and with many Swedish ISPs now deleting customers’ records, enforcing IPRED is likely to be extremely difficult.

Censorship

Sweden is a very free country, and internet censorship is minimal. Under the ‘Act (1998:112) on Responsibility for Electronic Bulletin Boards’, service providers must remove information relating to things such as instigation of rebellion, racial agitation, child pornography and illegal description of violence, but other than that there are few limits, although as an EU Sweden member does of course fall under the ECJ recent ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, and will consequently have some search engine results removed.

Unlike many other European countries, no blocking of websites deemed to promote copyright infringement is performed in Sweden.

The Pirate Bay

One of Sweden’s most famous / notorious children, The Pirate Bay (TPB) is probably the main reason for Sweden’s reputation as having a free-and-easy attitude to copyright infringement, and we feel that it would be remiss of us not to say a few words about it here.

Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay flamboyantly snubbed its nose at international copyright enforcement efforts to close it down, citing protection under various Swedish laws. Things started to become difficult in 2006 however, when the police performed a server raid prompted by allegations of copyright violations, which shut down the website for three days.

In 2009 the same judge that ordered the server raid found Pirate Bay founders , Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström guilty of ‘assistance to copyright infringement’, and sentenced them to one year in prison and payment of a fine of 30 million SEK (app. US$4,200,000).

he site was taken offline in 2010 due to an injunction against its bandwidth provider, but another Swedish provider (PRQ) agreed to host it, which it still does. During the course of 2013, thanks to the efforts of Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN, the TPB domain name was seized multiple times, forcing The PirateBay to use domain names based in various places around the world. In December 2013 however, the domain returned to the thepiratebay.se, where it hopes to remain for a while.

VPN

As we noted earlier, thanks to IPRED, VPN use is popular in Sweden, and thanks to the fact that Sweden never applied the DRD to VPN companies, it remains a very popular location for international providers to base VPN servers.

News of the government bullying ISPs to allow blanket real-time surveillance is worrying, although the fact that VPN companies such as Mullvad and iPredator (which was formed by Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde, a man very unlikely to bow down to such government pressure) operate there gives us confidence that ISPs remain free from such interference.

For those wanting to P2P download and generally protect their privacy, Sweden therefore makes a great base for both providers and servers, although if high levels of privacy are required then it would probably be best to choose a provider with no links to either Europe or the US (such as NordVPN or IronSocket).


Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

Buffered Logo $10/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

2

logo $9.00/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

3

logo $6.95/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

4

vpnarea_logo $9.90/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

5

logo $11/mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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2 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Sweden

  1. 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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