Swedish ISP offers free VPN in wake of data retention law
Swedish ISP Bahnhof has begun offering their users a free VPN service in order to hide and protect their data from law enforcement. This coincides with a recent lawsuit which demanded that the ISP retain all users data for up to a 6 month period. With the loss of a court decision contesting the EU Data Retention law put in place, the ISP is forced to retain all users traffic metadata and location, or risk being fined. Thus the VPN they’ll be offering will protect their users from the very law which wants to retain their data.
They’ve complied with the ruling in itself in order to avoid a 5 million Swedish Kronor fine. However the VPN will be their workaround. The VPN in itself allows users to browse safely and securely by masking their online identities from the mass surveillance. Bahnof’s CEO was quoted stating:
“It is an alternative. It allows customers to choose whether they want data retention or not”
The Swedish ISP currently services over 150k+ users so this service will allow for both businesses & individuals to have the security from their very own government. LEX Integrity is the VPN service the ISP has chosen to offer their users. Lex has developed this very service in co-operation with Bahnhof to support the “Free Speech” movement. Lex offers users a complete anonymous surfing experience with zero logging so no metadata, location, etc is ever tracked. They even went on their own blog to make the following statement:
“When a Bahnhof customer wants to surf via our servers they connect via PPTP. We at the foundation have no idea about who these customers are. We do not have any information about them, no name or address. We just check whether this (for us) unknown surfer should be permitted to connect via our servers.
When they surf via LEX Integrity they share IP addresses out towards the Internet. Many users can have the same address at the same time. As a provider of this service we do not have to retain data. Even if we would have to, there would be no useful information to be had from us.”
The company has been running advanced VPN services since summer of 2013 so they have some experience in the field.
Currently there is still uproar regarding the ISP decision. Whether or not it violates the law of data retention which was enacted on them by the government and more specifically, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS). Legal matters are still being examined whether or not they can make the argument that the ISP owns the VPN service & thus would be a deliberate workaround. However so as long as LEX Integrity is a 3rd party service, it’s simply an add-on offered by the ISP for their customers.
This also has started a movement in the Swedish area that Bahnhof is hoping will ignite other ISP’s to do the same & stand up for their users. Maintaining free speech & ensuring their users that they are protected against the government. Whether or not users are doing anything suspicious or not their data with this retention law will be tracked. It’s up to ISP’s like Bahnhof to protect their users.
If you live in Sweden and are looking for other VPN alternatives, check out our top VPN picks for Sweden.