Snowden Live in Theaters Tongiht

The new Oliver Stone movie “Snowden” is set to release in theaters on Friday, September 16th. For those who want more than just the movie experience, Fathom Events is hosting “Snowden Live” on Wednesday. The event will start with an early screening of the movie and end with a live interview of Edward Snowden. The live Snowden Q&A from Moscow will start shortly after the film ends. Snowden Live is set to start at 7:30 PM EST. The movie is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. The Q&A seesion is expected to last around 45 minutes.

Snowden Live

Just over three years ago, in the summer of 2013, Snowden came forward with the revelations of the NSA spying efforts against Americans. We have learned more about the full extent of surveillance in countries like the United States (NSA) and United Kingdom (GCHQ) since Snowden came forward. The US government immediately went after Snowden for treason. They went as far as grounding the plane of Bolivian President, Evo Morale, in suspicion of Snowden being on the plane. In the end Snowden was granted asylum in Russia and has been living in secret with his girlfriend in Moscow ever since. He would like to return to the United States when he feels a fair trial is possible. Perhaps the movie will help pressure officials to make that happen.

The team at ExpressVPN have put together an infographic detailing five ways Snowden changed the world.

ExpressVPN Snowden infographic

Tickets to Snowden Live are on sale through Fathom Events and Fandango. It looks like the cost is around $17 for the early screening of the movie and live Snowden Q&A afterwards. Those who miss the Wednesday event can catch “Snowden” in theaters starting on Friday, September 16th.

Netflix Forces Users to Choose Between Privacy and Entertainment

May 27, 2016 update: the OpenMedia campaign has nearly 50,000 signatures now.  In an effort to draw attention to the cause and hopefully a reaction from Netflix, OpenMedia is driving around Silicon Valley with this message:

OpenMedia Netflix message

In an attempt to discourage users from streaming content in other countries, Netflix has taken a hard stance on the usage of VPN.  Over the weekend they went a step further and are now blocking most VPN users from reaching the service.  We can debate whether or not it’s acceptable to switch Netflix locations.  That’s a business decision that has been made.  The biggest issue is the collateral damage.  The approach Netflix is taking puts them on the wrong side of user privacy.  The problem is that you can’t access the service when connected to a VPN in your own country.  In doing so Netflix is forcing users to choose between privacy and entertainment.  That’s not acceptable under any circumstance and users are starting to voice their opinion.  OpenMedia has launched a “My Netflix My Privacy” campaign to help give users a voice.

My Netflix My Privacy

I encourage all Netflix users to sign the petition.  This will give the OpenMedia team the power necessary to take the message directly to Netflix.  Anyone who remembers Flixter knows that Netflix is not beyond changing course if enough users voice opposition to their strategy.  Regardless of whether or not Netflix chooses to block users from switching regions, the company needs to keep user’s privacy in mind.  There has to be a better solution than their current approach of blocking VPNs outright.  Perhaps Netflix could compare the billing address with the country you are connecting from.  If the two match then don’t block access, even if the IP address is known to belong to a VPN service.  If enough users voice their criticism then Netflix will be more likely to change course.

The use of encryption to help protect your online privacy is growing in importance every day.  As a long time Netflix customer I will be cancelling my account until I can use a VPN from my home country to access the service.  There are plenty of other entertainment options available.  I won’t trade my privacy for a few laughs and I encourage you not to either.  Let Netflix know that you stand behind the need for privacy by signing the My Netflix My Privacy petition and sharing the issue with others so their voice can be heard as well.

VPN Providers Stand Up to DDoS Threats

Last week both BlackVPN and Cloak received DDoS threats from Armada Collective.  The letter demanded a 10 bitcoin ransom which is the equivalent of $4,500. We’re happy to share that both VPN companies refused to pay the ransom and are preparing for the possibility of a DDoS attack starting on Monday, April 25.  We’re hopeful no such attack will come but just in case they have each taken steps to warn members of the possible downtime.  No customers data will be at risk but their websites and VPN networks may be inaccessible.

BlackVPN DDoS Threat

The same group launched a DDoS attack against ProtonMail and Hushmail last November.  According to a post from BlackVPN on Reddit at least two other VPN companies received that same threat and we have heard from others.  That leads us to believe the threat is likely just a hoax to profit from VPN’s that would rather pay the ransom rather than take the chance of being attacked.  We’re hopeful that nothing will come of the DDoS threats.

What can you do as a user to protect yourself against DDoS attacks?  It might seem an odd answer for this post but one of the best ways for gamers to protect against DDoS attacks is by using a VPN.  Connecting to a VPN server will give you a new IP address so that the would be attackers can’t target a specific IP that you use all the time.  The current DDoS threats are likely a hoax.  The letters went out to multiple VPN services which would mean the attack would have to take place against a number of networks simultaneously.  That seems unlikely but we’ll have to wait and see.  If an attack does come and you’re VPN is impacted we hope you’ll be as understanding as possible.  We appreciate that none of the VPN’s we heard from agreed to pay a ransom.

Join an Apple iPhone Privacy Rally

In case you missed it, the FBI was able to get a court in California to order Apple to create a backdoor to allow law enforcement access to an iPhone tied to the San Bernardino attacks last week.  Apple will be formally responding to the court later this week.  In the meantime they are asking customers and everyone who cares about their privacy to consider the consequences of the court order.  Creating a backdoor for iOS would potentially give the FBI, other government agencies, criminals, and eventually everyone access to your cell phone data.  In response Fight For The Future is helping organize rallies to take place around the world at 5:30 PM local time on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd.  You can visit their Don’t Break Our Phones site for more details.

iPhone privacy rally

The rallies are set to take place on Tuesday, February 23rd at Apple stores in several US cities including:

  • Anchorage, Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Boston, Boulder, Brandon, Cherry Hill, Chicago, Corte Madera, Durham, Farmington, Houston, Los Angeles, Metairie, Miami, Minneapolis, Modesto, New York City, Palm Beach Gardens, Palo Alto, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Ridgeland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Seattle, Tampa, Valencia, and Washington DC.
  • Rally locations outside the US – Exeter, London, Munich, and Hong Kong.

Invite your friends and family to join in letting the US government know that you’re not ok with giving anyone access to your encrypted data.  No one is standing up in favor of those who plan to do us harm.  Instead we don’t wish to be monitored and give everyone access to our lives, digital and otherwise.  I believe Benjamin Franklin said it best, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”  Support Apple in their fight against the government to protect everyone’s digital privacy.

Please join us @VPNSP for more news along with VPN reviews and guides to help protect your privacy.

The Dutch Government Encourages Strong Encryption

It’s nice to start the new year with some positive news on the privacy front.  There are enough stories of countries like China taking action to weaken encryption and government officials in the UK and elsewhere pushing in the same direction.  In the face of the Paris attack companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook made it clear that weakening encryption would be bad for everyone.  In contrast, government officials in the Netherlands are coming out in favor of strong encryption.  They understand the need for strong encryption to help protect the privacy of Dutch citizens, companies, and the government itself.

Netherlands government

According to a statement (Dutch) issued Monday, the Netherlands is in full support of strong encryption to protect users privacy.  They see the threats in weakening encryption.  Whereas the Chinese plan to force companies to provide keys so they can monitor communications.  The Dutch see the flawed logic in giving away citizens privacy.  Ard van der Steur, the Minister of Security and Justice in the Netherlands, understands the importance of strong encryption in protecting the privacy of Dutch citizens, business, and the government.  He goes on to say that the Dutch government will not be taking action against the development or use of encryption in the Netherlands.  Both citizens and companies should respond by supporting the Dutch economy.

The Netherlands is already a popular location for VPN users.  Popular VPNs often host a large number of servers in Amsterdam.  The government’s positive stance on encryption will undoubtedly bring more privacy-related companies into the country.  As governments take sides on the encryption issue, their economies are sure to grow or suffer based on the decisions they make.  The argument that you shouldn’t care about privacy if you don’t have anything to hide is failing.  Glenn Greenwald made a great point in a TED Talk in Finland.  He said his response to anyone with that argument is to send him the passwords to all your email accounts.  Not just those used for work, but also any account you’ve ever used.  Not surprisingly no one has taken him up on the offer.  Encryption isn’t about hiding criminal activities.  It’s about protecting our right to privacy.  We’re very happy to see the Dutch government taking a public stance in support of strong encryption.  Who will be next?

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Sticky Password Black Friday Special

We’re excited to share an extra offer in addition to our Black Friday VPN deals this holiday season.  Sticky Password compliments our efforts perfectly.  Even if you have a VPN to encrypt your data and protect your online privacy, you still need strong passwords to help secure your accounts.  Not only do you need secure passwords, you need a different one for each site.  On top of all that you need to remember all those passwords.  That’s where Sticky Password comes in.  The password manager will securely store all your accounts and help you generate strong passwords.

Sticky Password Black Friday

The Sticky Password Black Friday special includes 70% off a lifetime license of the product.  The password manager normally costs $19.99 a year or $99.99 for life.  During their Black Friday promotion you can pick up a lifetime license for just $30.  I use the product and highly recommend it.  If you currently have a notebook for your passwords or keep them in a spreadsheet, it’s time to move them over to a secure solution.  Sticky Password will keep your passwords locally stored in an encrypted database.  No more needing to remember all those passwords.  Simply remember your master pass code to log into Sticky Password and let the program do the rest of the work.  You can even store multiple identities for a single site.  This is great for those who have multiple email accounts or check multiple Facebook accounts from the same computer.

Sticky Password will work on all your devices.  The software supports Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.  It works with a wide range of web browsers to autofill your username and password information.  The program uses AES-256 encryption to help protect your account information.  This is the same encryption used by the military so they take user privacy very seriously.  You can even sync your passwords between devices using your wifi connection at home.  Visit the Sticky Password Black Friday Special page to save.

Privacy Observer Quiz Results

September 22, 2015 update: the results are in from the Privacy Observer Quiz which included survey responses from 1,000 participants in August.  Let’s take a look at the results.

  • Finding 1: 73% of participants have used a VPN at least once
  • Finding 2: 63% of respondents select a VPN primarily based on privacy protection, 33% want to unblock geographic restrictions and VOIP apps, 4% for other reasons.
  • Finding 3: 44% of respondents see their biggest challenge in using a VPN as speed and reliability, 18% answered privacy and security, 17% said general ease of use, and 8% are concerned with the cost of VPN service.
  • Finding 4: 49% of respondents find that VPNs help protect them from 3rd party tracking, 44% like that VPN helps protect them from hackers when using public wifi.
  • Finding 5 and 6: 71% believe that zero logging does not exist, 88% feel that using a VPN greatly increases their online privacy, 12% felt that using a VPN makes them absolutely anonymous on the web.

How much do you know about the impact a VPN will and will not have on your privacy?  A new project called Privacy Observer will help you find out.  You can take their “Privacy Test” to find out just how much you know.  The quiz only takes a couple minutes.  At the end you will find some helpful information based on your answers.  You might find that your thoughts on VPN privacy are dead on or perhaps they aren’t quite in line with reality.  There’s only one way to find out.  Take the Privacy Observer and become more informed.

Privacy Observer

What will you learn from the Privacy Observer quiz?  I don’t want to give it all away but you will learn a few things.  For starters there are no zero logging VPNs in an absolute sense.  That one will surprise a lot of users.  They make it clear that while a VPN will help protect your online privacy, it will not make you 100% anonymous online.  Those are just two fallacies that the quiz will help inform you on.  You can learn more in the two minutes it takes to complete the quiz than you may have learned in years of using a VPN and other privacy services.

Privacy Observer is a Direct Spark project sponsored by ibVPN.  Direct Spark is an online marketing agency who likes to focus on new technology trends.  Given the importance of privacy in today’s world we’re glad to see them take on the Privacy Observer project.  You can learn more about the project on the Privacy Observer site.  The “Privacy Test” will be active through September 4th but there’s no reason to wait.  Head on over and test your privacy knowledge.  Help spread the word so your friends can learn more about privacy as well.

Reddit Banned in Russia

Roskomnadzor, the censorship agency in Russia, has decided to ban Reddit.  The decision appears to relate to a single Reddit thread on the topic of growing magic mushrooms.  According to various news reports the ban came after the Russian government failed to receive a response back from Reddit in relation to the thread.  In Russia the Roskomnadzor has the power to block any site without the need for a court order.  They unilaterally made the decision to block Reddit based on the magic mushroom thread.  This shouldn’t surprise many Internet users in Russia since the government blocks a wide range of websites.


In the case of the current Reddit ban it appears the company may share some responsibility.  According to the Russian government the team at Reddit failed to respond when they requested that a thread entitled “Minimum and reliable method of growing psilocybe” be deleted from the site.  Apparently the post was lengthy and written in Russian.  The lack of response from Reddit led to a blanket ban of the site.  You can decide for yourself whether or not that’s the full story or if the move to block the site was just another example of censorship.  The Russian government has been blocking sites for years and I wouldn’t expect that to stop anytime soon.

Internet users in Russia can still access Reddit and other banned sites with a VPN service.  Using a VPN will encrypt your connection and give you an IP address in another country.  Doing so will open access to sites as if you were in that country.  For example, if you connect to a VPN server in the United States you will be able to view sites like Reddit as if you were sitting on your laptop in the US and browsing locally.  You will find a number of VPNs on our site.  Read our “Best VPN Service” post for some good options.  These services are all fast and reliable.  Best of all they will help protect your privacy and unblock otherwise banned sites.

Find the Best Hola VPN Alternatives

If you’ve read any of the news lately regarding Hola VPN then you’re likely looking for an alternative.  The popular, free (freemium) VPN that works through your browser or via mobile app.  We won’t rehash the story but needless to say Hola has some major security issues to work out.  You can read more about the issues in this CNET article.  Instead of focusing on the negative I’ll recommend some good alternatives to Hola unblocker.

Hola VPN

All of the VPNs listed below are good alternatives to Hola.  They are not free.  I would not trust a free VPN service to protect your privacy.  They each offer premium service at a great price.  All three are offering our readers a deep discount on their service.  Thanks to IPVanish, OverPlay, and Private Internet Access for offering our guests a discount.  Save up to 60% off some of the best VPN services in the world.  They will help protect your privacy and unblock channels in other countries.

IPVanish – Best VPN

IPVanish coupon

IPVanish is focused on speed and reliability.  They manage VPN servers in 63 countries with more locations planned.  Members will appreciate the performance of their network.  IPVanish is consistently the fastest VPN service in North America and throughout Europe.  Members can use their free Windows or Mac VPN client along with mobile apps to connect using OpenVPN, PPTP or L2TP.  Customers enjoy two simultaneous connections.

IPVanish offers unlimited access to 150+ VPN servers located in 60 countries (full list) along with support for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and DD-WRT routers.  With their free IPVanish client and apps for your favorite mobile devices.  Enjoy unlimited VPN from just $4.87 a month.

OverPlay – Best Smart DNS

OverPlay special

OverPlay was selected for an Editors’ Choice Award based on their efforts in developing one of the first SmartDNS services.  They support both VPN and SmartDNS.  Customers can connect to any of their VPN servers across 48 countries using OpenVPN, PPTP or L2TP.  OverPlay offers free VPN client software for both Windows and Mac.  Their VPN service starts at $6.25 a month and SmartDNS at just $3.12 a month.

OverPlay offers unlimited access to over 140 VPN servers located in 48 countries (full list) along with support for OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP protocols.  OverPlay supports Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.  Enjoy unlimited VPN from $8.32 a month. or SmartDNS from just $4.16 a month.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access Specials

Private Internet Access has a great reputation in the VPN community.  The value of their service makes it a fan favorite.  We appreciate PIA offering our visitors an extra savings off their already low prices.  You can expect a fast, reliable connection.  Private Internet Access is P2P / torrent friendly and also supports VoIP.  They have a feature rich client for both Windows and Mac. Along with a free mobile app for Android users.

Private Internet Access users enjoy unlimited VPN service.  Connect to any of their 3,400+ VPN servers located in 18 countries (full list) along with support for OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP.  Enjoy unlimited VPN access and up to 5 simultaneous connections from just $3.25 a month.

You can review our top 10 VPN list for more options.  While none of the above VPNs are free I can assure you they are all well worth the price.  I’ve used all three services and highly recommend them to friends and family.  They will help protect your privacy and unblock content in other countries.  They are some of the best alternatives to Hola VPN.

HBO Warns Torrent Users

As you probably already know the first four episodes of the new Game of Thrones season 5 leaked prior to the airing of the first episode.  This brought on a flurry of downloads for what is already the most pirated show on television.  In the past HBO has taken a hands-off approach to torrent use but not anymore.  They have asked ISP’s to send warning letters to those who were caught downloading the first episodes.

Game of Thrones

How did HBO figure out who was downloading the leaked Game of Thrones episodes?  As always they use a third-party company to track users by the IP address used to download the show.  That didn’t work for those using a VPN.  Those who weren’t protected can expect a letter in the mail.  It doesn’t appear any legal action is planned.  HBO is warning users this time around but they could take things a step further in the future.

Here’s a copy of the letter received from a Bell Canada customer:

Sir/Madam Subscriber, We are writing this message on behalf of HOME BOX OFFICE, INC. (“HBO”), with physical offices located at 1100 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, United States (Attention: Director of Anti-Piracy). We have received information leading us to believe that an individual has utilized the IP address $MYIP at the noted date and time below to host and/or facilitate the downloading and/or streaming of content (listed below) in which HBO is the copyright owner of such content (the “HBO Properties”). No one is authorized to exhibit, reproduce, transmit, or otherwise distribute HBO Properties without the express written permission of HBO, and the unauthorized distribution of HBO Properties constitutes copyright infringement. This conduct may also violate other laws, international law, and/or treaty obligations. The title in question is: Game of Thrones As the owner of and/or subscriber using the IP address, HBO requests that you immediately take steps to prevent further downloading or uploading of HBO content without authorization. We have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law, and we are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. This letter is not a complete statement of HBO’s rights in connection with this matter, and nothing contained herein constitutes an express or implied wavier of any rights or remedies of HBO in connection with this matter, all of which are expressly reserved. We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Your prompt response is requested. Any further enquiries can be directed to Please include this message with your enquiry to ensure a quick response. Respectfully, Adrian Leatherland CEO IP-Echelon Email: Address: 6715 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, 90028, United States

Why did HBO decide to take a stronger stand on the torrent downloads?  They have taken a very lax approach in the past.  That has helped GoT progress into the most pirated show.  It also added to the merchandising profits and popularity of the show.  The difference seems to be their new streaming service, HBO Now.  It seems clear that HBO is going to start cracking down on torrent users.  Will it help or just drive more users to VPN?

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