The age of the privacy grift is upon us. Over the last couple of years, the public has become more aware of massive data collection by corporations and the steady drumbeat of leaks and hacks of personal information has people looking for a quick fix. If you ever find yourself tuned into Fox News, you’ll see commercials advertising dubious VPN services claiming to anonymize your online activities crammed between spots for buying gold and penis pills. That’s why many people might see a VPN option offered by their wireless carrier and consider it a simple solution to a problem they’re vaguely aware of. This is a bad idea.
Case in point, Verizon’s “Safe Wi-Fi” plan offers users “a VPN which protects your privacy when you use public Wi-Fi, so you can connect confidently and securely” for the low cost of $3.99 per month. As Motherboard first reported, it appears the service is a privacy problem itself.
Assuming Verizon is being forthcoming, it gives little comfort to know that Motherboard had to inform the company of what its publicly posted policy actually said. The thing is, Verizon is the kind of company you want to protect yourself from if you’re concerned enough about privacy to be using a mobile VPN. The big stories that circulate in the media about reckless privacy standards are more often than not about big companies like Verizon, Facebook, and Equifax being data-hungry money machines. Facebook has also offered its own suspect VPN service that you should definitely not use. You can read up on what you should look for in a VPN here, but different services can change and you should always do some research before using one.
Even if this VPN is the greatest service in its field, do you really want to add to the heap of little fees that Verizon turns into big money?