As regular readers of our blog will know, we are big fans of Private Internet Access, who not only pack a lot of features into what is a very low cost service, but also have a very enviable reputation for maintaining users’ privacy. PIA has regularly topped our ‘Best of’ lists, particularly on issues relating to privacy.
Like many others therefore, we were alarmed at what the NSA PRISM spying revelations might mean in regards to Private Internet Access, as PIA is a US based company, and Edward Snowden’s revelations make any and all US companies suspect.
In response to this, Private Internet Access has released a statement on the matter. In it, they make clear that they are dedicated to protecting civil liberties, and that were they to be approached regarding a scheme such as PRISM, they would resist to the utmost, to the point that they would shut down before betraying the privacy of their customers.
Private Internet Access also points out that it is unaware of any attempts by the NSA to target companies and small as themselves, with it preferring to co-opt companies with much larger user bases than PIA. ,It also believes that the US government is unlikely to engage in the scandalous behavior of making a privacy company spy on its own users.
PIA is certainly willing to talk the talk, and everything we know about them leads us to believe that they mean what they say, and we would be very surprised indeed to discover they have betrayed their users’ trust. At the end of the day, all VPN services rest on your trust of the VPN provider, and PIA has become a byword for dedication to privacy in the VPN world and trustworthiness.
However, we are less optimistic about PIA’s (and other US internet companies) future ability to guarantee the privacy of their customers. Unless the public outcry over NSA practices causes a serious reversal of policy (unlikely), then we can only see them expanding their operations to include smaller and less mainstream services.
We also do not have much faith in idea that the government would not risk the scandal of forcing a privacy company to betray its own user’s privacy. Most US based VPN companies happily hand over user’s details to copyright enforcers when served a DMCA request, and many European governments require VPN companies to keep logs, which can be accessed by government agencies.
In our opinion, Private Internet Access remains a secure and safe means of maintaining your privacy, but we shall have to see what the future brings. We hope the situation will never descend to the point that PIA has to carry through its promise to shut themselves down, but the point they have made such a promise only endears them further to us.