Following 2001 terrorist attacks US government had been actively passing legislation that would create legal framework for mass surveillance. In 2013 Edward Snowden, former CIA employee, revealed highly classified information about the mass surveillance program initially launched by the US and UK government.
Leaked documents revealed that the involved governments gathered communications records of millions of ordinary citizens on a global scale. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, AOL, PalTalk all provided highly personal information to the NSA, information that included search results, messaging and email content, recording of VoIP calls and videos, photos, social media posts and activity. And following 2001 terrorist attacks US government had been actively passing legislation that would create legal framework for the above surveillance.
USA PATRIOT Act (The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) was the first fundamental law that expanded domestic law enforcement surveillance powers to monitor phone calls, emails, browsing activities, collect banking information and credit history. The Patriot Act additionally provided legal framework for the US government agencies to share information related to potential terrorist threats.
The government was using the law to justify mass collection and processing of highly sensitive personal information about millions of Americans. The Patriot Act essentially provided legal framework to spy on citizens without a court warrant specifically targeting individuals that were suspected to be involved with terrorism.
In 2006, EFF obtained whistleblower evidence (.pdf) from former AT&T technician Mark Klein showing that AT&T made copies of all emails, web browsing activities and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provided those copies to the NSA. Secret government documents, leaked by Snowden and published by the Guardian and Washington Post, confirmed that the NSA had access to full copies of all telecom and Internet communications within the United States.
USA Patriot Act was the first legal threat to privacy since it provided unprecedented comprehensive powers to the US government that facilitated mass surveillance on ordinary Americans.
The United States Gag Order additionally restricted the recipient (private company, for instance) from publicly acknowledging the subpoena. USA Patriot Act coupled with a Gag Order had been used by the US government to force private companies into secretly spying on their users.
In June 2015 US Congress approved the USA Freedom Act, a bill placing restrictions and oversight on the NSA surveillance. While USA Freedom Act put an end to NSA mass monitoring, the law did not stop private entities from gathering the data. Although passing mandatory data retention legislation in the US failed, phone records, emails and Internet browsing is still being logged by telecom companies. In order to gain access to this information, the NSA has to provide a reasonable suspicion that a specific individual, account or device is associated with the terrorism.
Therefore, USA Freedom Act seemingly limited government agencies’ access to personal data that private companies collect. But in late 2015 Congress passed yet another law, CISA, that was designed to protect businesses from legal liability in cases when they volunteer to hand over intelligence information to the federal government.
As a result, US Patriot Act along with the Gag Order and CISA basically neutralize US privacy laws making the United States one of the worst jurisdictions for privacy. It’s worth noting, however, that the US government only enforces Patriot Act and Gag Order in high-profile cases mostly involving national security.
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ExpressVPN has one of the largest and fastest infrastructures with over 2,000 servers in 94 countries. Ultra fast ExpressVPN network supports gigabit Internet connection which makes it a perfect choice for ultra high speed streaming and torrenting. Besides, ExpressVPN aligns itself as one of the Internet’s leading advocates for net neutrality, for a democratic and open internet. Considering they have a no logs policy, accept Bitcoin and are located on the Caribbean Island, they are a great choice for privacy oriented customers who want to protect their data from surveillance, bypass censorship and access restricted materials. To read a full ExpressVPN review click HERE.
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Based in Malaysia, Hide.me is one the most secure and fastest VPN providers offering ultra fast VPN servers that provide gigabit Internet connection. Hide.Me VPN is extremely reliable and very fast which makes it a perfect choice for security oriented users who would like to enjoy uninterrupted streaming and browsing experience. Hide.Me offers incredibly convenient custom apps for all devices with a number of advanced security features for maximum protection. Hide.me is a no logs company that has custom software with a built-in protection against IP and data leaks, obfuscation tools to bypass strict firewalls, dynamic TCP/UDP port-forwarding (UPnP) and SOCKS5 proxy that is especially useful for torrenting. To read a full Hide.me review click HERE.
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VyprVPN is a leading no logs VPN provider (independently audited) with over 700 ultra fast servers worldwide that support Google Fiber gigabit Internet connection (1,000Mbps). VyprVPN has done independent public audit by Leviathan Security to ensure that no Personally Identifiable Information is collected with respect to the use of the VyprVPN service. Unlike most VPN providers, VyprVPN doesn’t rely on 3rd party hosting – they own and manage their own VPN servers. VyprVPN infrastructure is amazingly fast offering ultra fast speeds and low ping times for high speed HD streaming. VyprVPN custom software is very reliable and protects users from various IP leaks. VyprVPN apps offer port forwarding to port 433 and ports 15000-20000. In addition, VyprVPN is an excellent provider to bypass even the strictest firewalls that block VPN connection. To read a full VyprVPN review click HERE.
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Perfect Privacy is an ultra fast (gigabit servers) VPN provider with a heavy focus on advanced online security. Perfect Privacy integrated firewall enforces all traffic to be sent through secure tunnels thereby protecting their users from all known IP leaks when the app is running, it even prevents unencrypted online access after OS reboot. In addition, Perfect Privacy offers a unique Multi-Hop VPN feature that allows cascading over up to 4 OpenVPN servers at the same time along with SOCKS5 and Squid proxies. Perfect Privacy can bypass strict firewalls by obfuscating OpenVPN to look like normal HTTPS traffic with OpenVPN over SSH feature. For additional firewall penetration Perfect Privacy allows 5 custom port forwardings or 3 default random ports. What really separates them, though, is their ability to resolve .onion (TOR) addresses without the need for the Tor Browser. To read a full Perfect Privacy review click HERE.
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AirVPN is an Italian VPN provider created by privacy activists whose main goal is data protection. AirVPN has over 200 servers in 23 countries that have Perfect Forward Secrecy through Diffie-Hellman key exchange DHE. Essentially key negotiation is performed every 60 minutes to avoid data breach if the key is compromised. Additionally, AirVPN offers OpenVPN over SSH and OpenVPN over SSL that mask OpenVPN and make the use of encryption tools invisible to some of the most advanced firewalls. To read a full AirVPN review click HERE.
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Romania based CyberGhost is a no logs VPN provider with over 3,500 high speed VPN servers. CyberGhost offers streaming servers to unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer as well as secure torrenting servers. For faster streaming and torrenting CyberGhost VPN allows switching between TCP/UDP protocols. VPN provider offers desktop and mobile apps with built-in advanced security features such as automatic kill switch, DNS & IP leaks, anti-fingerprinting and tracking protection, an ad-blocker and anti-malware. To read a full CyberGhost review click HERE.
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No logs Trust.Zone is a Seychelles based VPN provider with user privacy as their foremost priority. Since Trust.Zone is a VPN service launched by one of the largest torrenting websites ExtraTorrent, it’s no wonder they are one of the best providers for p2p file sharing. Their apps have DNS, WebRTC leaks protection, Kill Switch and port-forwarding features. To read a full Trust.Zone review click HERE.