Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are an indispensable part of our online safety. They are designed to help you become anonymous while you browse the internet. It is estimated that 30% of web users have used a VPN or proxy server in the past 30 days. Many choose to employ them to securely gain unlimited access to the world wide web, and it is expected that the number of VPN users will continue to quickly increase in the coming years. Consequently, the industry’s revenue is predicted to escalate from $34.591 billion in 2018 to $50.153 billion by 2024.
However, VPNs today are simply no longer just used to grant you online anonymity. These digital services have become highly proactive about online safety and on the 12th December 2019, NordVPN joined VPN Trust Initiative (VTI) together with other major VPN providers with the aim of improving digital security for consumers. By strengthening trust, building understanding, and mitigating risks for VPN users, the initiative strives to give VPNs a unified voice in global internet and cybersecurity policy.
The initiative is led by the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition). Since 2011, the I2Coalition has advocated on behalf of this industry to ensure that internet users can enjoy a more functional, free, and secure internet.
The VTI will continue to support this important work with a special focus on the issues pertaining to VPNs and their users. Conceptually, the collaboration plan of action is that together, they can make amendments to the industry and provide consumers with insight. The aim is to establish a base with which to regulate practices VPN providers should follow. This would, in one manner or another, align practices across the industry.
VPN Trust Initiative’s founding members include five leading VPN service providers and their associated brands: NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, Golden Frog (VyprVPN) and NetProtect (whose VPN brands include IPVanish, encrypt.me, WLVPN, SugarSync, StrongVPN, OverPlay, and SaferVPN).
These are some of the largest VPN service providers, making the VTI a promising initiative that will hopefully change the industry for the better. NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service provider in the world, with over 12 million users globally.
The product is user-friendly, cost-effective and has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries. One of its key features is the zero-log policy. Other VPN service providers are expected to join soon.
VTi’s new members may include PureVPN, ProtonVPN, CyberGhost, and more. But VPNs are relatively new members to i2Coalition. Others include and are not limited to web hosting companies, data centers, cloud infrastructure, and providers.
As of yet, there are no other similar industry groups in the space. If the VPN Trust Initiative succeeds, it could bring more VPNs up to the level with what users expect (and unknowingly hope for) in terms of privacy and security.
Any VPN working with the coalition will need to meet these guidelines to make sure that their service is up to the standard requirement. Encryption and logging policies, for example, will most likely have to comply with the i2Coalition’s policies. The i2Coalition acts to ensure the success of this initiative.
As authorities pressurize VPNs to hand over user records and weaken encryption, lobbying could play an important role in the industry’s future. IPVanish vice president of marketing, Jeremy Palmer spoke of the rapid pace at which the industry was evolving, and of the significance of adopting a proactive approach towards standards and legislation. Public education is the initiatives other goal. Members will cooperate to advocate VPNs to the general public.
The initiative’s success depends on industry cooperation, so the goal is not to act as an exclusive club of top VPNs. The i2Coalition acts as an independent party to bring competitors together, irrespective of their size or success. The coalition has a long, extensive track record in the hosting and cloud space, including members ranging from single-operator entrepreneurs to some of the largest hosting companies in the world. Companies feel the situation is dire enough to have placed trust in them to oversee the VPN Trust Initiative to success.
Christian Dawson, Co-Founder of the i2Coalition says VPNs are a foundational technology for a safer Internet, so it’s important that providers adhere strictly to the best practices. However, it is crucial that new legislation indirectly limits the productiveness of VPNs. The initiative offers a vital and unique opportunity for the industry to come together as a collective.
Laura Tyrell, Head of Public Relations at NordVPN says the VPN industry has crossed the line where we must create industry guidelines and policies that are mutually agreed upon. It is mandatory if we all want to inspire trust and transparency for the VPN market and pave ethical business standards for the future. VPNs already are a tool many internet users worldwide use daily, going as far as to even ensure digital human rights. The VTI will proceed with their plans and use their means to educate the public about VPN technology, their right to free speech and what steps they can take to ensure that their privacy is protected. Open access to this information will be provided.
The implications of the events at play go above and beyond simply NordVPN or any of the other industry giants. The creation and existence of the VPN Trust Initiative suggest that no matter which VPN provider consumers prefer using, they will know they support the quality standards and moral values advocated by the VTI.
The move is set to benefit not just VPN users but vouches to make the entire industry more secure. By promoting ethical practices, VTI strives to the importance of this technology into the future. At the same time though, the consequences of legislation that is not conscientiously backed by insider expertise would be devastating for the industry and for any future innovations using VPN technology. The VTI first-hand knowledge to advocate privacy rights is a greater step towards mitigating risks for users and non-users, irrespectively.