Privacy Group says Hotspot VPN threatens users' Privacy, Snoop and Monetizes Web Traffic



  A digital right group called Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), on Monday urged US federal authorities to carry out an investigation into on VPN provider AnchorFree for deceptive and unfair practices.

 According to a complaint filed with the FTC, AnchorFree which owns the Hotspot Shield VPN app claims to provide its users with online protection from tracking, but the company instead gathers data and its privacy policy allows it to share the information.

 "The Center for Democratic & Technology askd the federal trade Commission (Commission) to investigate the data security and data sharing practices of Hotspot Shield Free Virtual Private Network (VPN) services, a product of Anchorfree, Inc. Hotspot Shield Free VPN promises secure, private, and anonymous access to the internet," the complaint read.

 The complaints went on to say that the VPN service injects ads and JavaScript code for advertising purposes into user's browser when connected through Hotspot Shield which then expose the users to online monitoring, which is contrary to the company's motto which is ."Don't let ISPs monetize your web history: Use Hotspot Shield."

 "Contrary to Hotspot Shield's claims, the VPN has been found to be actively injecting JavaScript codes using iframes for advertising and tracking purose. An iframe, or "inline frame," is an HTML tag that can be used to embed content from another site or service onto a webpage; iframes are frequently used to insert advertising, but can also be used to inject other malicious or unwanted code onto a webpage," the complaint read.

Also read: VPN usage now a crime in the UAE, offenders to pay up to $545,000

The CDT group said that the Hotspot Shield VPN app which uses more than five third party tracking libraries, discloses other sensitive data, including SSID/BSSID networks names, MAC address and device IMEI numbers which it uses to optimize the advertising features.
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