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5 Best VPNs for the Netherlands (Holland)

With very little in the way of censorship (except for the banning of The Pirate Bay last year), and the downloading of pirated movies and music for personal use being declared legal, the primary reason for Dutch netizens to use VPN is to evade the local implementation of the EU Data Retention Directive, as well as general privacy concerns relating to the scope of the NSA’s international spying program.

We discuss these issues and their implications for internet users in Holland in some detail towards the end of this article, but let’s first have a look at some great VPNs to check out if you live in the Netherlands


Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

logo $9.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

2

logo $11/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

3

logo $7.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

4

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

5

logo $6.95/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

Take a look below to see slightly more detailed views about each provider.

Winner

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)

AirVPN consists of Italian activists and hactivists who not only show an admirable belief in online privacy and net neutrality, but are willing back these ideals up with some rock-solid security measures. Like Holland, Italy has not applied the DRD to VPN services, and AirVPN keeps no logs, uses shared IP addresses, and accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins. AirVPN also uses 256-bit AES encryption, and supports unusual VPN technologies such as VPN over Tor, and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, in addition to providing detailed real-time connection reports (referred to as net transparency by AirVPN). Although only one device can be connected at a time by default, additional devices can be added for $1.99/mo each. All in all, although lacking in some of the flashy extras offered by the likes of PIA, AirVPN is one of the best VPN services available anywhere.

» Visit AirVPN


2nd place

NordVPN

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin payments
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • Inconsistent connection speeds

This Panama based provider is new to our list of recommended VPNS, but impressed us with great security measures, although connection performance was a bit haphazard. NordVPN keeps no logs at all, accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins, and uses 256-bit AES encryption. It is a little on the bare bones, side, but if tip level security is your bag, NordVPN will not disappoint.

» Visit NordVPN


3rd place

Mullvad

  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • Good speeds
  • Cheap
  • Client features internet kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers in Sweden and Netherlands
  • CONS
  • Some complaints about potential security lapses and performance

We have always liked Mullvad, although the odd complaint about poor connection speeds and possible security flaws make us a little more cautious about recommending it. Still, the fact that it keeps no logs and not only accepts payment by Bitcoin, but also in cash sent by snail mail endears it to us immensely, as does its low cost, great little client with an internet kill switch, DNS leak protection, and server load statistics. Unlike the other providers listed here, Mullvad uses only 128-bit Blowfish OpenVPN encryption (with 2048-bit RSA key encryption), which while in the past we have considered sufficient, in the wake of the recent revelations over the NSA weakening and subverting encryption standard we hope is beefed up in the near future.

» Visit Mullvad


4th place

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN_Logo

  • PROS
  • No usage logs
  • Lots of servers worlwide
  • Fast
  • 30 day money back guarentee
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • US company
  • No simultaneous connections
  • P2P: no

If you prefer a more global outlook, ExpressVPN is great option as it has servers all over the world (in 78 countries). A US company, Express is not the one to choose if NSA surveillance worries you, but   for more modest security requirements the fact that it keeps no usage logs (although some connection logs are kept), is very fast, and offers a 30 day no quibbles money back guarantee are highly attractive features.

» Visit ExpressVPN


5th 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
  • 3 simultaneous connection
  • CONS
  • No free trial
  • US based company so is likely infiltrated by the NSA

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


VPN issues in the Netherlands

Copyright enforcement

The Netherlands, long known for its liberal attitudes to many things, has joined the list of European counties that have succumbed to pressure from powerful copyright enforcement lobbies, and in 2012 anti-piracy body BREIN won a court ruling ordering two of Holland’s leading ISP’s – Ziggo and XS4ALL to implement a DNS and IP address block of The Pirate Bay.  This court order was soon extended to Dutch ISPs KPN/Telfort, UPC, T-Mobile and Tele2, and The Pirate Party was banned from publishing proxy lists to help downloaders evade the ban.

In general, the Netherlands has been quite aggressive when it comes tackling copyright infringement, although a court ruled in December last year (2012) that it was not illegal to download movies or music for personal use. However,  in a country where an estimated 30% of the population downloads copyrighted material without paying for it, entertainment industry copyright holders are compensated for alleged losses due to piracy through a ‘piracy tax’ on blank media such as CDRs and DVDRs.

The EU Data Retention Directive

The Netherlands, as with nearly all European Union member states, has transposed the 2006 Data Retention Directive into national law. A lot of confusion surrounds this law (particularly in respect to VPNs) which requires that all telecoms providers (including ISPs) keep logs of all communications made by all EU citizens for a period of 12 months (although the Netherlands government has made efforts to reduce this period to 6 months). Note that the DRD does not allow the content of communications to be stored, just traffic data. However, as the NSA spying scandal has demonstrated, the collection of metadata recording usage patterns can be highly revealing, and on the scale it is practiced can be viewed as ‘simply tyrannical’.

Most countries have assumed that VPNs are covered by the Directive, and have expressly included them in local implementation of the law. However a number of countries, following careful analysis of Articles 1(2), 3(2) and 5, have correctly decided that VPN are not covered by the Directive, as they do not provide Internet access.

The Netherlands (together with Bulgaria, Luxemburg, Romania, Switzerland and Sweden) is one of those countries. This has made it something of a haven for VPN providers, and is one of the most popular places for international providers to locate servers. In fact many providers, under pressure from anti-piracy bodies elsewhere, have severs specially setup in Holland made exclusively available to their customers for the purpose of P2P downloading.

NSA, the Patriot and FISSA

We discuss the level to which the NSA has blanket spied on European citizens (and which the Directorate General for Internal Policies report has described as ‘heavy-calibre mass surveillance firepower’) in more detail in this article, but the main points are that:

  • The Patriot Act allows the US intelligence services to compel any US company to hand over information on any of its servers, even if that information resides (and has always resided) outside the United States
  • The 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISSA) similarly allows US agencies to issue secret surveillance orders that provide them with access to information stored in cloud databases located in the EU, but owned by US companies

In a move that could be seen as contemptuous of all non-US citizens, a US judiciary subcommittee on FISAA has decided that the basic Fourth Amendment protection afforded to US citizens ‘has no relevance’ to non-US citizens who are not resident in the US (i.e. the rest of the world).

Conclusion

Evading the DRD and NSA are great reasons to use VPN in Holland, although the issue then comes up – do you choose a server based in the Netherlands, or one based abroad? Although the Netherlands is one of the best places in the world to base VPN servers, we always recommend using servers overseas from the country you are accessing the internet from, as this makes them much less likely to be monitored by your own government.


Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

logo $9.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

2

logo $11/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

3

logo $7.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

4

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

5

logo $6.95/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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