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Private Internet Access: VPNs, education, and software freedom

by Molly de Blanc Contributions Published on Apr 13, 2018 04:04 PM

Meet Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) was a generous supporter of LibrePlanet 2018 and the Free Software Foundation as a patron. As one of the largest VPN services available, they have customers all around the world. Their VPN works with free software VPN clients like OpenVPN. They recently announced their intention to release some of the software they produce under a free license.

I had a conversation with Christel Dahlskjaer, their director of sponsorships and events, about their views on free software, digital rights, and user freedom. She emphasized that PIA uses their resources for the defense of free software, digital rights, and civil liberties, which are among their greatest concerns.

Through partnerships, PIA educates and helps people learn about and work towards better safety online and the mitigation of privacy risks. They bring this support to "activists, dissidents, journalists, whistleblowers, and digital nomads," in addition to everyday users of their VPN services, Dahlskjaer said in identifying their user base.

PIA is built on free software -- literally and ideologically. "We are acutely aware that free software is at the foundation of the vast majority of the technology that we rely on, and indeed founded our business on," said Dahlskjaer. "We believe that software freedom goes hand in hand with civil liberties and digital rights, and it is natural for us to support the development and use of free software."

"The digital landscape is changing and, as individuals, we are facing real risk from the monetization of data, surveillance, privatization, and risk of potential bad actors. Now is the time to act when it comes to taking (back) control of our data and our digital rights," she went on.

"Draconian leaders continue to be misinformed or have an agenda separate of the people, leading to poor legislation across the board, regardless of one's jurisdiction. It continues to become clear that the greatest challenge is the legal landscape for new technology. That being said, with the continued advancements we have seen with applied cryptography, the time when technology simply transcends is drawing nigh. We will win. I assure you, we will win."

The Free Software Foundation is excited to have the support of Private Internet Access in LibrePlanet, our other work, and the greater free software community.

You can read more about Private Internet Access on their Web site, and also read job descriptions online.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. It "extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network" (Wikipedia). This gives users of a VPN enhanced privacy and security. While frequently used by companies and organizations to provide access to servers or an intranet to those not in the office, a VPN is also invaluable for activists, journalists, whistleblowers, and any end user looking to increase the trust they have in their networks. VPNs can be used to access any Web sites or Web services.

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