Well-known BitTorrent news site TorrentFreak has floated the idea of establishing an independent body charged with overseeing various aspects of VPN provider’s security measures. The idea involves regular audits that would assess things such as privacy policies, technical security measures, and company structure.
This call to action is designed to address (at least in part) the major weakness of VPN as an anonymity measure – that it requires a great deal of trust in the VPN provider. Although the technology behind VPN should ensure that no-one except the user and the VPN provider can ‘see’ users’ internet traffic, the VPN provider definitely constitutes a ‘weak link’, as you basically have to trust them not to monitor your online activity.
This is, of course, why we put so much store in whether or not a provider keeps logs, as if no logs are kept then there is nothing to hand over to authorities, no matter how strongly demanded. The most canonical list of VPN providers’ privacy policies (by VPNs who even pretend to protect your privacy – many don’t), is TorrentFreak’s VPN Services That Take Your Anonymity Seriously, 2013 Edition, although you should also see our pick of 5 Most Secure VPNs.
However, any such list relies on providers doing as they say they will, which is why TorrentFreak has approached ‘several providers about the idea of setting up an independent foundation to do regular audits on a variety of security aspects’.
Such a body would be no guarantee against a company changing it’s policies after an audit was completed or performing other underhanded tactics, but in an industry ‘worth hundreds of millions of dollars’, it would at least provide some framework of objective standards, and baseline codes of best practice for providers to adhere to.
Apparently ‘all providers welcomed such an initiative and would happily pay to be screened.’
We wonder what our readers think of the idea, so invite you fill in the poll below. Of course we would also love to hear from you, so feel free to add a comment to expand on your feelings about the matter!