Why Chinese VPN Firms Hide Their True Identities
China is well-known to be an anti-internet country. They have so many laws and policies that make it difficult for companies to set up internet-related products and services and make it almost illegal for citizens to use these products.
However, the Chinese are quite determined to bypass these policies and provide millions of users worldwide with said products and services. More often today, we find VPNs popping up that have roots in China or are Chinese-owned.
While this is not abominable in itself, the situations surrounding their coming to light make us wary of using Chinese VPNs. Why do Chinese VPN firms feel the need to hide their identities from the public?
Chinese Firms Own One-Third of VPN Companies
A recent study by VPN PRO revealed that up to 30% of VPNs have connections with or were owned by Chinese firms. The research showed that 101 VPNs, well-known among the top best VPNs in the industry, shared only 23 parent companies among themselves.
Of these 23, 6 companies were based in China and were head of 29 well-known VPNs. Even worse, most Chinese-owned VPNs hide the information about their parent companies, keeping the necessary info about them from users. It looks like a lot of shady business if you ask us.
With the help of geolocations, company listings, employee CVs and other bits of information, VPN PRO was able to identify and retrieve information about these parent companies.
This research also uncovered that some VPN companies split ownership of more than one VPN among a couple of subsidiaries they own. So, you would find one parent company with subsidiary businesses owning several VPN apps.
Some VPN companies with the same parents that have been uncovered are:
1. Innovative Connecting. This company has three different businesses that own a VPN each; Autumn Breeze, Lemon Cove, and All Connected.
2. j2 Global, which owns 13 VPN apps including IPVanish, StrongVPN, OerPlayVPN, and many more.
3. AnchorFree. This one owns 10 VPN products; Hotspot Shield and VPN360 are on their list.
4. Gaditek owns 7 VPN products, PureVPN and Ivacy VPN inclusive.
5. Kape Technologies owns the well-known CyberGhost, ZenMate VPN, and Private Internet Access.
Why Do Chinese VPN Firms Hide Their Identities?
It’s not uncommon to find VPN companies as heads of more than one VPN, so why do Chinese companies feel the need to hide their identity from their users? Because they know there are many reasons that would call for concern if users found out who really owned the VPNs that they freely give access to their information.
These are a few reasons that may interest you:
1. Internet Censorship in China
The Great Firewall of China is a familiar term for many internet users who have tried to access certain content from China. This Firewall is the Chinese Government’s way of clamping down on its citizens’ access to the internet and internet-related activities.
So, finding internet services based in China becomes worrisome because this means the companies are subject to heavy surveillance by the Chinese Government. If the Chinese Government requests their users’ data from these VPN companies, they are under strict obligation to provide it.
This heavy censorship also means that your data is not as secure as the VPNs claim it is. Sure, you may be safe from hackers, but the prying eyes of the Chinese Government have access to your data at their fingertips. All they need to do is legally request for it from these Chinese-owned companies.
2. Privacy and Anonymity Breach
With the government having unrestricted access to your data when they like, users’ privacy and anonymity status become breached. The Chinese Government can identify you, have access to your sensitive information and your real location.
The weak privacy laws in China put users of Chinese-owned VPNs at risk. Users who look to VPNs for disguise and online protection, like human rights activists, whistle-blowers, government critics, and other similar individuals, are at risk of being found out by the Chinese Government.
Because of this risk of data breach and privacy and anonymity, users become wary of using or being associated with any VPN owned by Chinese companies. Nobody wants to pay for a VPN to protect their data and online privacy, only to find out that the same companies can put their data at risk.
Chinese VPN firms know this, so make sure they conceal their identities well enough not to scare away potential users entirely.
Should You Use a Chinese-owned VPN?
If you find out you’re using a Chinese-owned VPN, you may start to worry about whether or not to continue. Is it really so bad to use a VPN owned by the Chinese?
You can draw your conclusions based on these few factors:
1. Little to No Transparency
Using a Chinese VPN means you would have to keep looking out for the true identities of the owners of the VPN. Chinese VPN companies hardly give information about who they are, where they operate from, their operation policies, and many more.
This is important to know because VPN owners can be anybody, including cybercrooks masquerading behind offering the public online anonymity and privacy service. VPN owners can mine your data, steal your information, and use it for illegal activities.
How can you ascertain that your data is safe if you do not know the VPN owners?
2. Vulnerable to Risks
As you use a VPN owned by Chinese, you must always bear in mind that your data is at risk. It is at risk of malware, hackers, the Chinese Government, and cybercriminals. This defeats the purpose of signing up for the service, don’t you think?
People use VPNs to avoid all these risks, but choosing one owned by a company based in a country with weak privacy policies makes you an easy target.
How to Find a Trustworthy VPN
Fully aware of the risks you face by going with any random Virtual Private Network (VPN), you must take precautions to see that your choice of VPN partner is safe for you. Here are a few tips to help with your search.
1. Do Your Homework
Seeing as these VPNs are not interested in telling you about their parent companies and their background, it’s up to you to do some digging. Before you choose any VPN, try to find out about the service by going online. Reviews don’t lie. Chances are there are other people like you who are also privacy-conscious and have done their digging.
What are reviews and other users saying? What do researchers have to say? All these will point you in the right direction and help you find out how trustworthy a VPN provider claims to be.
3. Avoid Free VPNs
Free VPNs may claim to be free, but they need money to run their services. So, many of them turn to track and sell your data to businesses and advertisers. This also means they use poor encryption tools to protect your data. With only a weak protection, data breaches become easier by the Chinese Government or cybercriminals, putting your information at risk.
VPNs are necessary for every internet user, and so it’s great that Chinese companies are doing their part in providing such services for netizens. What’s worrisome, however, is their hidden identity that makes their offerings extremely suspicious, especially since China has not proven very internet-friendly. Choosing to use a Chinese-owned VPN should be with utmost care and certainty that your information is not at risk.