Safe Jurisdiction – Why it Matters
By Nick Anderson 5 minutes
Several factors go into making a VPN service great. Features such as encryption, Kill Switch, server count aside, there is an important aspect that you must always pay attention to. Jurisdiction is often overlooked while talking about VPN services. It plays a huge role in upholding the commitment of user privacy.
What is Safe Jurisdiction?
Jurisdiction refers to the extent of exercising laws as an authority. A country with laws governing it cannot exercise the same in another country. Some countries have friendly ties with other countries, which allows them to seek help. It’s a way of extending jurisdiction.
The United States is one of the countries with heavy digital surveillance. Internet Service Providers (ISP) and telecommunication service providers maintain logs of user activity. It’s called data retention, and it’s very real.
In 2013, an ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details in what is the biggest privacy scandal of the decade. Snowden revealed the existence of a surveillance program called PRISM – it’s run by the NSA to keep tabs on web communication for user activities. Although NSA denies actively listening in, leaked documents also included a court letter directing service provider Verizon to keep records of its user and handover the data in an occurring manner. The court letter also binds Verizon to an NDA, where it cannot reveal the existence of the order to any non-essential personnel. So, had it not been for Snowden’s revelations, it would have never come to light.
Privacy advocates have long battled and raised concerns that the US government actively monitors its citizens through various means. But this was the first time such evidence had come to light. The NSA claims that it does not tap on web communication but can only request information on an individual through a court order after providing sufficient evidence to back the request. However, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s (FISC) matters are not public, so there is no way to guarantee that user privacy is not being breached through unconstitutional requests.
The Five Eyes Alliances
Remember what we said about countries working together? The Five Eyes alliance is exactly that. It is an alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The primary purpose of the group is to share signal intelligence: the internet and telecommunication. If any of the countries find you as a person of interest, it can request data on you from the allied countries – regardless of jurisdiction.
Like PRISM, the United Kingdom runs a program called Tempora. So whether you are in the United States or any other country with heavy digital surveillance and data retention laws, your privacy is at risk.
Five Eyes was just the beginning; more countries joined the alliance. The Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes include countries that joined the joint signals intelligence alliance later.
Why Safe Jurisdiction Matters for VPN
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tool that secures your connection end-to-end with encryption. Data travels in encrypted form, preventing anyone in the middle from intercepting data. And because even the DNS requests are encrypted, the ISP remains unaware as long as you remain connected to the VPN.
As a service company that handles user information and web traffic, VPN services can be compelled to record user activity if it operates in a country like the US. Operating in a jurisdiction that does not legally bind services to follow such practices is considered a safe jurisdiction. You cannot subscribe to a service operating in China and expect to be a hundred percent private online.
FastestVPN operates out of the Cayman Islands. It is an autonomous state with its own laws and court. It gives us the freedom to uphold the commitment to you. FastestVPN does not record or track your activities; we only collect bare minimum information needed to provide the service to you. A safe jurisdiction plays a key role in giving you complete peace of mind.
Moreover, some countries have outright banned the use of a VPN. China and North Korea have the strictest digital surveillance. And because a VPN bypasses the ability to monitor a user’s web activity, the use of a VPN is prohibited unless the government approves it. Approval is based on the VPN service’s agreement to log user activity.
What Happens if the Government Asks for Data?
Because FastestVPN operates in an autonomous state, any outside government cannot force FastestVPN to give up logs or user information. Only the Cayman Island’s court can issue the directive after a thorough review of an external entity’s request. But, even then, FastestVPN cannot reveal user activity since it does not log that kind of data.
VPNs are not created equal. Many claims to not log user activity, but fall under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes. It makes it incredibly difficult to uphold the commitment to user privacy truly. Over the years, as users become more aware of the factors affecting privacy, safe jurisdiction has come to offer a seal of confidence. When you surf with FastestVPN, browsing activities remain truly private.