VANCOUVER — The world is moving away from easy-to-use VPNs to more complicated, and more expensive ones that are becoming harder to track down.
But a new study from the University of British Columbia and the University and College London shows the trend is getting worse.
Using a statistical analysis of over 6 million websites, the study found that in 2013, the world’s top 10 most popular VPN services generated more than $2 billion in revenue.
The report found that those services are not only being more popular, but they are being harder to trace, while many of the top providers are moving to cheaper methods that are not as reliable.
That could be because the top companies are making their services more expensive, or because they are shifting away from the use of advanced encryption.
For example, one of the most popular popular VPNs in China was purchased by Tencent last year.
It is the same company that made popular VPN service VPN TunnelBear, which allows users to hide their IP addresses and traffic from prying eyes.
In a statement, Tencent said it was aware of the report and is reviewing its policies to make sure they are legal.
“We take this issue seriously and we are working with the authorities to ensure this is not happening again,” it said.
A spokesperson for VPN provider OpenVPN said the company is aware of its own findings.
“We will be looking into it closely,” he said.
“We have already taken steps to make our customers and users aware of these changes.”
In Canada, VPN services were once a way to get around censorship, and now they can be used by governments to spy on their users.
If a VPN service provider does not have a Canadian license or an IP address in the country, it is subject to strict laws.
Canada’s privacy commissioner said the research is a wake-up call.
“If this kind of behaviour continues, we’re going to see more and more VPNs being shut down,” said John Smolenski.
“It’s going to create a situation where people will be forced to choose between their privacy and freedom.
Smolensky says governments are increasingly turning to cheaper, less secure methods of communication and that will have a negative impact on people’s online safety and security.
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