Hotspot Shield VPN accused of violating users’ privacy

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The VPN service Hotspot Shield is being accused of violating web traffic policies.

Screenshot by Brianne Garrett/CNET

The free virtual private networking service Hotspot Shield has been accused of violating its own privacy policies[1] by the Center for Democracy & Technology[2] (CDT), a nonprofit advocacy group for consumer privacy rights. In a 14-page filing[3], the CDT has requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate Hotspot for engaging in “unfair and deceptive trade practices” by interfering with web traffic and redirecting it to partner websites like advertising companies. One reason that consumers sign up for VPN services like Hotspot is to shield their browsing habits from internet service providers and other online entities that broker user data, or to access services that ISPs — or host nations — otherwise block.

But the VPN effectively has access to the same data that it’s shielding from the outside Web. As noted in the filing, Hotspot Shield CEO David Gorodyansky previously stated to the Huffington Post[4] that the company’s policy was to “never log or store user data.” Hotspot Shield could not be reached for comment.

Read more about this story[5] at our sister publication, ZDNet.

References

  1. ^ own privacy policies (www.hotspotshield.com)
  2. ^ Center for Democracy & Technology (cdt.org)
  3. ^ 14-page filing (www.documentcloud.org)
  4. ^ stated to the Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com)
  5. ^ more about this story (www.zdnet.com)

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