FTC urged to take action against deceptive VPNs amid abortion ban

FTC urged to take action against deceptive VPNs amid abortion ban

More women in US are using VPNs, but not all are trustworthy. Women in the US have been advised to utilize one of the top VPN services to safeguard their private health information after Roe v. Wade was overturned and abortion prohibitions that followed. However, not all VPN service providers uphold the security and privacy promises they make.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is being urged by politicians to intervene against what they refer to as “deceptive advertising and data gathering techniques.”

US Representative Anna Eshoo and Senator Ron Wyden urged the FTC to properly regulate the industry in a letter to Chair Lina Khan dated July 13.

They added, “The VPN sector is quite opaque, and many VPN providers take advantage of, deceive, and mislead unsuspecting customers.

Lawmakers bemoaned a lack of resources for independent VPN assessments to support security promises made by providers. They also drew attention to the fact that some VPN review websites are really run by businesses that market security products.

VPNs’ shady activities

Given the abundance of VPN programs available and the several businesses with questionable histories, it might be challenging to determine which ones you can trust.

For instance, Consumer Reports (CR) discovered in 2021 that three-quarters of the top VPN companies had misrepresented their services or made exaggerated promises about the level of security they could provide consumers.

BuzzFeed uncovered that at least 20 VPN and ad-blocking applications were privately owned by Sensor Tower, a well-known analytics firm, a year earlier. Millions of consumers who unintentionally and without their knowledge downloaded one of these apps onto their phones had their data collected by the corporation.

In addition to failing to live up to their no-logs policy promises, several significant VPN companies have exposed gigabytes of sensitive customer data or given it to government police.

Many free VPN providers even include ad-trackers that give users’ personal information to outside companies. A survey of 283 Android applications revealed that just 35% of the premium versions incorporated at least one third-party tracking library, compared to 72% of the free services.

The letter ends, “These abusive and exploitative data practices are simply unacceptable with abortion banned or soon to be outlawed in 13 states and highly limited in many more.”

“Among order to safeguard internet consumers looking for abortions, we implore the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to act swiftly under Section 5 of the FTC Act to stop abusive and misleading data practices in VPN service providers. We also ask the FTC to provide a booklet outlining the advantages and disadvantages of using a VPN, as well as how to best safeguard personal data, for anyone looking for an abortion.”

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