Best daily deals
Best daily deals

Links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

Is your VPN spying on you?

One of the most popular VPNs has found itself in hot water for allegedly spying on its users for profit. How can you protect yourself?
August 9, 2017

It’s a sad condition when the company that you trust to protect your privacy is the very one violating it. The trending news in the security world this week involves accusations leveled at Hotspot Shield, a widely used VPN provider.

These claims allege that Hotspot Shield was engaging in deceptive business practices, and the Federal Trade Commission is moving to investigate.

Just last year in an interview with ZDNet, Hotspot higher up David Gorodynasky claimed that, although many subscribers use the ad-supported version of the software, the company doesn’t collect or store data from these users, preferring a “zero knowledge” approach.

Hotspot Shield is accused of spying on its users for its own gain.

The Center for Democracy & Technology based out of Washington DC is telling a different story, however. They claim Hotspot Shield has been redirecting user browsing activity to targeted advertisers that they partner with.

In essence, while they told their users that they would be able to browse anonymously, they instead allegedly tracked their behavior and attempted to pair them up with advertisers for profit.

In short, Hotspot Shield is accused of spying on its users for its own gain.

This information was uncovered in partnership with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, which reverse engineered source code. They found that the VPN “uses more than five different third-party tracking libraries, contradicting statements that Hotspot Shield ensures anonymous and private web browsing.”

Claims allege that Hotspot Shield was engaging in deceptive business practices

Even if you’re trying to protect your privacy, you might be giving it away. That’s why it’s critically important to investigate the fine print of any VPN service that you use. Many bargain VPNs look like inexpensive ways to safeguard your browsing, but you should always check to make sure your provider has clearly stated in their privacy policy that they do not keep logs.

Basically you get what you pay for.

The VPN service we use at AA is IPVanish. It ain’t cheap, but their policies are solid and they don’t keep any logs. Their usual rates are $10 for a month, $27 for three months, or $78 for a year.

We noticed IPVanish is having something of a chuckle at HotSpot Shield getting caught doing allegedly shady dealings, as they’ve introduced a new promo code for the next week that gets you 25% of the entire billing cycle of any of their plans. So if you grab the year plan, for instance, you only wind up paying $4.89 per month. Just use the coupon code HOTSEAT. (This will be automatically applied if you use the button below).

Whether you go with our favorite VPN or another one, always be sure to read the fine print carefully. Make sure you’re getting a real Virtual Private Network and not a Virtual Spy Network.

Important: It’s worth noting that although HotSpot Shield is currently under investigation for claims of shady behavior, no official ruling has been made. This incident serves as an excellent reminder to always do due diligence when it comes to the privacy policies of software you use for private information.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links.

Is this deal not quite right for you? Head over to the AAPICKS HUB for more savings you're going to love! For notifications of offers and price drops, sign up for our Deal Alerts newsletter.
We may get a small percent from purchases made through our posts. However, the AA Picks team only showcases verified, legitimate deals. It's a nice way to help keep the lights on around here, and it decreases our reliance on pesky ads. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out at