Do Free VPNs Collect Your Data?


  • A 2020 report by SurfShark identified that 31% of internet users around the world have used a VPN service.
  • That same report also made note that only 36% of VPN users pay for their VPN application.
  • Southeast Asia leads the world in VPN usage with countries such as Indonesia (61%), Thailand (39%), Vietnam (35%), and Malaysia (32%) making extensive use of VPNs per a 2021 report by Infopackets. The most common reason cited for VPN usage in Southeast Asia was to avoid censorship.

This Ask the Experts session stems from a question originally posted on Quora titled “Do Free VPNs Collect Your Data?”

The saying “nothing in life is free” is very true, especially when it comes to software. Providers of “free” VPNs typically collect some type of data from end users. The details of what data is collected in exchange for the use of the “free” VPN are often buried deep inside of the end user license agreement (EULA). Of course, many of us simply download the software and breeze through the EULA since we do not have the time, or mental energy, to read through dozens of pages of abstract concepts and confusing legal terms. The amount, and type of data collected by free VPN providers varies widely.

The following chart highlights how several popular VPNs use your data:

How your data is used by the top 20 VPNs on Google Play.
How your data is used by the top 20 VPNs on the App Store.

Photo credit and data source: Comparitech – How the most popular free VPNs use your data

Remember, if something is free, you are often the product.

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