Freedom on the Net 2015

We’re excited to announce our partnership with Protonet’s Free Your Data – a political crowd campaign to help people take back their data from the tracking, collection and selling of user data that’s so prevalent online. Free Your Data believes your data is your “digital identity,” and it should remain yours. They’ve created a petition to demand “data sovereignty” from the companies and corporations who so frequently collect and sell this data. You can visit to learn more and sign the petition to support the cause.

“Customers should demand transparency from their providers, so they can choose how to protect their data.”

said Sunday Yokubaitis, president of Golden Frog. As a company that fights for online privacy and security, we are proud to partner with an organization like Free Your Data. We fully support Free Your Data’s efforts to protect user data and privacy, and to fight back against the privacy violations that take places so frequently around the Internet. Everyone has a right to online privacy and security, and deserves transparency into how their data is being used.

How to Protect Your Privacy

Using a VPN, like our VyprVPN, is a good way to protect your privacy online. VyprVPN encrypts your Internet connection so you can browse securely from any location, and in doing so protects your data from hackers, third-party snoops and anyone else who is looking to track or sell it.

The Freedom on the Net 2015 report was recently released! This report shows how countries around the world rank in terms of their Internet freedoms, on a scale that includes “free,” “partly free” and “not free.” 65 countries were examined in the 2015 report.

Key findings from the 2015 report include:

Content removals increased: This year, 42 countries were required to remove content. These requests came from governments, and the content to be removed was political, religious and related to social issues.
Surveillance laws and technologies multiplied: 14 countries passed new laws to increase surveillance. Additionally, some updated the surveillance equipment they use. We certainly saw an great deal of surveillance legislation being proposed and enacted, including in Russia, France, UK and even in the USA with the Senate’s passage of CISA.
Governments undermined encryption, anonymity: There were many countries that have tried to limit encryption technologies or ban encryption from being used altogether. Encryption was also repeatedly “stigmatized” as a negative tool that aides criminals. Here at Golden Frog, we closely followed and spoke out against the United States’ fight for encryption backdoors, continue to advocate for encryption and also joined forces with other groups to save crypto.
Arrests and intimidation escalated: Arrests and intimidation was in response to people sharing information over social networks that was political, religious, or societal. In many instances, this information was communications surrounding public unrest.

To learn more about Internet freedom in 2015, read the full report. Detailed reports for all 65 countries examined are also available, so you can see how your country fared.

Want your apps to trigger VyprVPN to connect whenever you launch them? Now you can!

Connection Per App is now available for VyprVPN for Mac. Just like on VyprVPN for Android, Connection Per App lets you control your VPN connection behavior on a per-app basis. Once you set up Connection Per App to your preference, this will make it easier for you to know that you will never be online without VPN protection.

For VyprVPN for Mac, Connection Per App offers 3 different settings:

Use VPN – all apps run through the VPN connection
Require VPN – if VyprVPN is not connected when you launch the app, it will not be able to send unprotected traffic until the VPN is connected
Bypass VPN – even when VyprVPN is connected, these apps will not use the VPN connection

Separately set VyprVPN to automatically connect whenever you open any app so you don’t have to remember to manually connect each time.

Connection Per App is a new feature in the latest 2.8 release of VyprVPN for Mac. We also included Advanced OpenVPN settings for those that want extra control of the protocol settings. Read the full changelog here.

We are constantly striving to make encryption as easy and available to users as possible. After lots of hard work and development time, we’re happy to announce that VyprVPN for Android users can now use Android Pay in order to upgrade to a paid, unlimited plan from within the app itself.

What is Android Pay?

Android Pay is a form of mobile payment provided by Google. It allows you to easily pay for things with your mobile devices.

What does this mean for VyprVPN for Android?

Android users don’t need to leave the app or access our website to continue protecting their online privacy and freedom. The payment process is now streamlined in the app so you can use VyprVPN without interruption.

ECPA, The Email Communications Privacy Act, will be discussed in U.S. Congress on December 1, 2015. In advance of this we wanted to provide an overview of ECPA – what it is and how we’d like to see it reformed.

What is it?

ECPA sets the rules for when police and the government can read our email, look at our photos and access other content that’s stored in the cloud.

ECPA has remained unchanged since it was passed in 1986 — despite the incredible technological advances of recent decades.

Why does it need reform?

ECPA has remained unchanged since 1986, which has left our communications open to unwarranted government intrusion.

As the law is currently written, government and law enforcement officials can access personal communications and documents in remote storage in the cloud with merely a subpoena, meaning no prior consideration from a judge is necessary. This massive vulnerability in privacy rights opens the door for government snooping and complete disregard to our Fourth Amendment rights.

Last Congress, great strides were made to update ECPA for the digital age, but reform did not come to function. Congress must act this year to appropriately protect Americans’ privacy and property so that our rights on the Internet will finally be equivalent to the physical world.

We’re not the only ones calling for ECPA reform. As reported in a Washington Post article, 77% of voters polled believe “a warrant should be required to access emails, photos, and other private communications stored online.” Furthermore, 86% of these voters said they believed ECPA should be updated, and 53% expressed that they’d support a candidate in support of “strengthening online privacy.” It’s important to note the poll was conducted by a group advocating for the law to be changed, as the law is up for debate on December 1. You can read the full Washington Post article here: “The government often doesn’t need a warrant to get your e-mails. But most think it should.”

We’ve seen a lot of censorship this year, from content blocking to flat out surveillance and control through “great firewalls.” Freedom House’s 2015 Freedom on the Net even reported that worldwide Internet freedom declined for the 5th year in a row – a very concerning fact. Our Top 10 list takes a look at some of this year’s most alarming censorship events in countries around the world.

10 – Draft Cyber Crime Bill: Pakistan

Pakistan introduced a very strict draft cyber crime bill earlier this year, called the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, which has some scary implications. Furthermore, their inter-ministerial committee that was previously responsible for censorship was dissolved, and the government regulator put in charge of censorship and managing content on the Internet instead.

9 – Draft Online Regulation Policy: South Africa

A less well-known bill that was announced this year is South Africa’s Draft Online Regulation Policy, produced by the country’s Film and Publication Board (FPB). The law includes many disturbing provisions, and as distilled by the EFF means “any online platform can be ordered to take down any content distributed online that the Board may deem to be potentially harmful and disturbing.” Part of the reason this was so surprising is that South Africa generally enjoys a free and open Internet experience.

8 – Data Localization Law & Increased Control: Russia

A country known for restrictions, Russia signed a new data retention law back in 2014 that went into effect on September 1 2015. This law includes some alarming provisions, including requirements for companies to store data about Russian citizens on Russian soil (also known as “data localization”).

7 – Video Game Ban: Saudi Arabia

One of the more restrictive countries in the MENA region, Saudi Arabia continued its censorship practices this year. It reportedly banned Fallout 4, a very popular video game, likely due to content of the game including violence and other negative behaviors. Further, “The Saudi government continued to employ strict filtering of internet content” in early 2015, and people exercised self-censorship when commenting on sensitive issues such as politics, religion and the ruling family online.

6 – Blocking of VOIP Services: Egypt

Egypt reportedly blocked popular Voice Over IP services (like Skype) earlier this year. Egypt already has a “not free” Internet experience, and saw self-censorship and arrests based on content or messages posted online increase as well.

5 – Plans for a Great Firewall (and to Intercept Encrypted Communications): Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan announced plans for its own “Great Firewall,” to begin operation in 2015. This firewall will intercept encrypted communications, opening up citizens to increased government surveillance, monitoring and censorship. There were also reports of the government cutting off mobile and Internet service temporarily in the wake of events in the country. Already ranked “not free” for its Internet freedom, news of this Great Firewall is particulairly alarming.

4 – Social Media Ban: Bangladesh

Bangladesh banned social networks like Facebook, WhatsApps and others after protests this year – twice. The bans were put in place very briefly in January, and then again in November.

3 – Plans for a [Another] Great Firewall: Thailand

Thailand announced plans for its own “Great Firewall” – a single gateway Internet that would allow them to control all the information going in and out of the country. This move was met with a lot of resistance, and concerns about this restrictive and censorious firewall were echoed from various parties.

2 – Turkey

Turkey blocked twitter several times this year, and also blocked reddit for a short period of time this fall. Just last week, Turkey continued to display disdain for Twitter when they fined Twitter over what they referred to as “terrorist propaganda.” As reported in Freedom on the Net 2015, “In the first half of 2015, 92 percent of all court orders to remove content received by Twitter worldwide originated in Turkey.”

1 – China

China tops our list, as it continues its pervasive Internet censorship program under the Great Firewall. The citizens of China continue to suffer from oppressive censorship and Internet restrictions, and do not have access to a free or open Internet experience. China ranked dead last in terms of Internet freedom around the world in the Freedom on the Net 2015 report. It was reported that 16 of the top 30 websites were blocked, and Wikipedia went from being partially blocked to completely blocked. Censorship is so extreme, it’s even curbing the innovation of startups in the country. China also blocked many VPN providers this year (not VyprVPN – our Chameleon technology defeats VPN blocking and continues to provide access in China). Meanwhile, China’s top censor continues to deny that Internet censorship is occurring.

As reported by the International Business Times, China has blocked Wikipedia in “its entirety” – and this isn’t the first time. The site’s Chinese version was previously blocked, but now all versions of Wikipedia are blocked in China.

China has made a practice of blocking the site on and off for over ten years, as part of its sweeping Internet censorship called the Great Firewall. This most recent blocking may be the result of Wikipedia’s changing its “default protocol from HTTP to HTTPS, which has made it more difficult for China’s Great Firewall to filter specific pages and information.” Since it’s now harder to select specific pages to filter out, blocking the site has become “all or nothing.” And the government decided to block it all.