Can a VPN Help you Avoid Internet Surveillance?

Updated on: 7 February 2019
Updated on:7 February 2019

Unfortunately internet freedom is under attack for some years now all over the western world. Be it either internet censorship or surveillance of internet users, such measures are now the norm in most western countries.

This was all proven to be the case in 2013 when Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the Prism program used by the United States government in order to track people’s internet activity. This is all real and true and has been happening for several years now.

But how can you protect yourself? Is there a way to eliminate internet surveillance or at least drastically decrease it’s effects?

Yes, it is possible with a VPN.

How does a VPN protect you from internet surveillance?

A VPN will divert the traffic coming and going to your computer to a different server first. It essentially creates a middleman between you and the website you want to access. All your internet traffic will first go to the VPN server and only after that to the destination site.

From the accessed site’s perspective the physical you, the one actually visiting the site, does not exist. The website will only see the VPN server you are connected to and will believe that it’s that server that is the end user. It will not have knowledge that the server only acts as a middleman. (But even if it does, it’s technically impossible to actually check who the true end-user is).

So, the reason you will want to use a VPN to overcome internet surveillance is to hide who you are in reality or where you are located at.

If you are located in the United States and connect to a German sever and IP and visit, then will think that an individual located in Germany is the person who visited their website. It will never be able to to know it was actually someone else from the US.

This is how a VPN works.

Below you will find the description of a few extra features that a premium VPN offers which will further greatly increase your privacy and security.

Traffic encryption

A VPN will also encrypt your traffic, meaning that without a special private key no one will be able to decrypt your web traffic. You will have to use a VPN such as NordVPN that only and exclusively stores private keys on end-users computers and not on any cloud service.

This means that the only way yo decrypt your web traffic is to have physical access to your computer.

What this means is that not even NordVPN itself will be able to decrypt your traffic no matter what hard they try or what they do. The private key is physically stored on your computer and without physical access it’s not possible to recover it.

What’s best is that such encryption options will also make it impossible for your ISP to intercept and decrypt your traffic. This means that even if the government requires your ISP to provide them with your data, that data will be completely useless for them as it will be encrypted and without physical access to your computer it will be impossible for them to decrypt it.

Double VPN connection

A double VPN connection is when you are behind two VPNs at the same time. This essentially creates two middle men between you and the website you want to visit. It adds another safe and encrypted layer between you and the internet at large.

This makes it virtually completely impossible for anyone to figure out who you really are and where you are located at. This is perhaps one of the strongest privacy features a VPN can have beside encryption.

Imagine being from the US and being connected to a server from Germany, which in turn is connected to a server from Australia and only then connected to the website you want to visit. This is what a Double VPN feature accomplices.

Unfortunately only a few VPN applications have a double VPN feature built in by default. One of these VPNs is NordVPN.

Zero-logs policies

Something else that is very important and a must-have when it comes to avoiding internet surveillance with a VPN is to choose a VPN that has zero-logs policies.

What this means is that the VPN will not store any data whatsoever regarding your identity but most importantly your web traffic data. It will simply not record anything whatsoever about your traffic data, not even how much MB of data you have transferred or the times you have connected to or disconnected from the VPN application.

On the odd chance that the government requests a VPN company to provide user traffic data that VPN that has zero-logs policies will not be able to supply the government any such data as no such data actually even exists.

A good with with zero-logs policy is NordVPN.

Privacy-friendly jurisdictions

Certain jurisdictions such as the United States and the United Kingdom have laws in place that give the government the right to request private companies to supply the government with customer web traffic data.

If you want to use a VPN to overcome internet surveillance then you need to use a VPN that is located in a country that has no such laws. It’s also important for those countries to not have data sharing agreement with other countries.

Such jurisdictions are the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Seychelles.

NordVPN, for example, is located in Panama, a country that does not have data collection and data sharing laws.

Can a VPN truly protect you?

A VPN can increase your internet security substantially if you use the right VPN and are careful with what websites you visit or what kind of personal information you reveal online.

For example it does not matter if you visit banned websites but simultaneously have a browser tab open with your personal Facebook account with your real name. In this case it’s possible for the website in question to know who you are for the simple reason you have a Facebook tab open with your name on it.

You do need to be careful in such cases and not have anything open that can be pointed to your real name. You should always be careful of also what kind of posts you make on different sites or forums. Some may be able to link those posts to you with some social engineering and research.

But if you do all of the above and use a good VPN that has all of the above-described features such as Double VPN, zero-logs policies and advanced encryption, then you will be completely off the radar in 99,999% of the cases.

A VPN that I highly recommend in case you are worries about internet surveillance is NordVPN. It has the mentioned Double VPN feature as well as advanced encryption and zero-logs policies. It’s located in Panama, country that does not have data collection laws and data sharing agreements with other countries.

It also has an advanced server infrastructure meaning that you can use it even 24/7 and not experience any decreased browsing and loading speeds. You can basically use your NordVPN connection all the time instead of your normal connection, meaning your online footprint will basically become 0.

So, this is how you can avoid internet surveillance with the help of a VPN. I sincerely hope that this guide was useful for you!

Written by: Elizabeth March

Advanced ITSEC Specialist Based in Cambridge, England, Elizabeth has held notable positions for a range of high-profile vendors and clients in the European IT Security and Communications Sector. As a former IT Trainer, Technical Specialist, and Product Manager; she transitioned into the role of an expert IT Copywriter in 2015. Since then, her works have been published globally, and she continues to help people easily decipher complex technical challenges and make informed decisions about their digital lives.

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