IPVanish is a virtual private network (VPN) service that allows users to securely and anonymously access the internet. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between a device and the internet, protecting data and preventing snooping or tampering by third parties. IPVanish offers a range of VPN products and services, including support for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and other platforms. The company was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in the United States.
A few years ago, IPVanish handed over user logs to the FBI. This caused consumers to question just how seriously the company takes user privacy, and it saw a dip in use and confidence as a result. As part of my review, I look to see if there have been any changes, or if IPVanish still deserves caution when choosing a VPN.
IPVanish is the latest high-profile VPN to have provided information to the authorities after earlier claiming security for their users. Back in 2011, HideMyAss handed over information that would help to jail LulzSec hacker Cody Kretsinger. Last year it was revealed that PureVPN helped the FBI catch a cyberstalker.
Can you torrent with IPVanish?
One of the most common reasons why people sign up for VPNs is so they can use BitTorrent without revealing their true IP address. If you look at section 12 and 13 of the IPVanish Terms of Service, it clearly states that they respect copyright and intellectual property. They also have a page on their website instructing individuals how to submit DMCA notices. It is clear from their ToS that repeated DMCA violations will result in termination of your account:
It is our policy to terminate in appropriate circumstances the accounts of subscribers who infringe the copyrights of others.
We may Process your Personal Data where the Processing is required by applicable law;
What exactly does that mean? Just a few more lines down it explains:
“Personal Data” means information that is about any individual, or from which any individual is directly or indirectly identifiable, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier, or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that individual.
“Process”, “Processing” or “Processed” means anything that is done with any Personal Data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organization, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.
Hands in many different pies
IPVanish has an interesting history that also includes a few different ownership changes over the years.
Here is a brief summary of IPVanish’s history based on my research for this review:
- IPVanish was founded by Mudhook Marketing in 2012, a subsidiary of Highwinds Network Group in Orlando, Florida.
- In 2017, StackPath acquired Highwinds Network Group, which also included IPVanish.
- In 2019, IPVanish was sold off to J2 Global (now called ZiffDavis Inc.) under the “Net Protect” division.
J2 Global, also known as ZiffDavis Inc., isn’t just any ordinary company – they’re the parent company for many websites that publish reviews, including PCMag. But wait, there’s more. J2 Global doesn’t just stop at publishing reviews, they also own several VPN services, such as IPVanish, StrongVPN, and Encrypt.me. As if that’s not enough, they also have a secure cloud storage service called SugarSync. It seems like J2 Global wants to control every aspect of the digital world, doesn’t it? Who knows what kind of data they’re collecting from all these different services. It’s enough to make you wonder who’s really in charge of your data and privacy.
So, J2 Global is the proud owner of a collection of VPN services, which means we’re now in a situation where VPN review websites are recommending products that are actually owned by the parent company. How convenient, right?
It’s a bit of a dubious situation if you ask me, and we’ve discussed it before in our article on VPNs that own review websites. It’s hard not to be skeptical when the very same company that owns the VPN service is also the one getting glowing reviews from their own review websites. One has to wonder if these reviews are truly unbiased or just part of a larger marketing scheme. It’s a classic case of “who watches the watchers,” and it’s not exactly comforting.