The recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling has amplified concerns about digital privacy. Many have been and are looking to VPNs for help. Over the last year, researchers found that VPN searches reached yearly peaks around key dates for the anti-abortion rulings, and they observed sharp spikes in interest in states as they passed abortion-related laws.
Unfortunately, some VPN vendors (many in the eyes of industry experts) are making privacy claims about their solutions that they do not support. Worse, many VPN apps collect vast amounts of data from their mobile users without their knowledge. These issues extend well beyond post-Roe privacy concerns and apply to enterprises that use VPNs, as well.
The topic came to a head last week when U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo and Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Lina Khan, urging her and the commission to “address abusive and deceptive data practices by hundreds of companies providing Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.” The two noted that “the consumer VPN industry is rife with deceptive advertising and abusive data practices.”