For VPN Provider HideMyNet DMCA's ABC's Not As Easy As 123

from the you-are-the-weakest-link-goodbye dept

Besides circumventing censorship, one of VPN services’ main functions is safeguarding users’ privacy. To find out how far these services go to protect their customers’ privacy, Torrentfreak conducted a 2-question survey among VPN providers, with mixed results.

As I was looking for a VPN provider myself and got tipped about HideMyNet, which is missing from Torrentfreak’s overview, I decided to ask them the two questions myself:

Your service has been recommended to me multiple times, but before I start using your service, I have two questions.

1. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you or a 3rd party to match an IP address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold?

2. Under what jurisdictions does your company operate and under what exact circumstances will you share the information you hold with a 3rd party?

A few hours later I received their response:

 1) Yes, any serious company would. I would be concerned about the quality of a company who did not. If no logs are kept it’d be impossible to respond to a DMCA complaint which puts the company liable for a 100,000$ fine. I highly doubt you’re going to find any company willing to risk that sort of liability on a 5$/month vpn account. Good luck!

2) USA – Also, it’s the jurisdiction of the server endpoint — Not the company itself.

A baffling response which, besides being rude, also shows the company is completely clueless about the DMCA. We got in touch with a lawyer who’s a DMCA expert who had the following to say:

“Sounds bogus to me. 17 USC 512(m) says the safe harbor is not conditioned on “monitoring the service.” However, the service provider will be asked for evidence of its takedown practices, but the service provider only has to give what it’s got. The $100k fine is made up too.”

Classy, HideMyNet. Inventing a $100,000 fine to scare potential customers into using your service instead of a competitor’s. Lesson learned: always make sure a service actually knows what it’s talking about before handing over your money and beware of VPN providers that will sacrifice your privacy regardless of whether you are in violation of some country’s copyright laws or not.

So what was it HideMyNet: simply unaware of the law? A case of untrained sales representatives being allowed to make up facts? Scared of the weight and money the entertainment industry’s lobbies are throwing at suing the hell out of honest companies? Or do you have other motives to hide behind the DMCA?

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Companies: hidemynet

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Comments on “For VPN Provider HideMyNet DMCA's ABC's Not As Easy As 123”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Did you just skip over "Sounds bogus to me."?

You can’t call that answer definitive! At the very least, allows that another lawyer has a different opinion. (Of course, you can rarely pin a lawyer down on anything.)

I’d be surprised if any commercial VPN does NOT keep full logs — despite the opinion in #1. Unless working for the company and know so personally, you’re at best gullible, trusting a corporation when their risk is about $100K vs a $5 sale.

No company is likely to say to a gov’t: “Sorry, the trail stops here in our server!” — That leaves them holding the bag, and it may be full of HOT potatoes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rule #1

NEVER give your money to any VPN based in the US if you value any privacy whatsoever. The once “Land of the Free” representatives tossed “We the People” into the gutter for personal and commercial gain… see Chris Dodd (f’n tool), and any number of others (SOPA reps)… years ago.

EU has strict privacy laws.

Data Retention Laws says:

Re: Rule #1

That person is incorrect. The US has no mandatory data retention laws, but most of Europe does.

The following countries are safe for VPN because they either do not have any data retention laws or their data retention laws are not applicable to VPN providers. Companies can always choose to keep logs on their own though, so always check their policy.

Czech Republic
Hong Kong
United States

A Guy (profile) says:

Rule #1

It may be my tinfoil hat, but I bet all American based VPNs are monitored.

A quick application to the FISA court to “find the terrorists” followed by a secret court order to the VPN providers to retain records would do it.

That combined with the ability to collect “business records” in secret vis a vi the patriot act and the government has all the records it wants.

A Guy (profile) says:

Rule #1

I have a background in engineering with strong interests in politics and physics.

Storage is cheap. It doesn’t take much imagination to see there are only a few internet backbones that are controlled by the government whom are seizing “business records.” (ie data traveling over the backbone and security certificates issued within the United States)

That combined with the great breakthroughs in quantum computing means that factoring in polynomial time is just around the corner, if not already here. Meaning all common encryption schemes will soon be, or already have been broken.

Once you understand what the government is technically capable of and legally allowed to do, the fact that you can just buy these congressmen becomes really scary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rule #1

“It may be my tinfoil hat, but I bet all American based VPNs are monitored.”

I wear the same tinfoil hat. The US gov’t is not trustworthy about ANYTHING. Incumbents must go at all costs. It’s time for time limits. Lifetime politicians must come to an end.

Sorry to hijack this into a political rant, but it’s all [political nowadays, isn’t it?

G Thompson (profile) says:

Rule #1

The correlation between Quantum physics and Politicsis actually quite interesting.

Take Politicians.. They can be equated to quarks since they try to constantly charm you, go up and down on issues like a yo-yo, say they come from the bottom but always try to stay up top of the class system, are extremely strange at any time, have a huge amount of spin generated and leave a very sickly flavour in your mouth after dealing with them in any way.

Also like quarks politicians are never found in isolation and they try to control how they are directly observed. Also they are constantly found surrounded by sycophants with hadrons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rule #1

“On the other hand, the US have a pretty awesome constitution”

Sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I’m from the same land as you. Ever since Clinton’s term was up, that piece of paper has been treated like toilet paper by the powers that be.

Honestly, should we even have to battle such things? Shouldn’t lawmakers think these things through BEFORE they propose unconstitutional laws? Is that not why they are “supposedly” there… because they’re supposed to know better? Should more tax dollars need to be spent defending unconstitutional lawsuits just to represent the “PEOPLE” who spoke loudly, and they completely ignored in the first place????
If you’re that comfortable with the way things are now late at night, me thinks you’re due for a nightmare or two.

Planespotter (profile) says:

Did you just skip over "Sounds bogus to me."?

Most serious Newsgroup/Usenet providers either dont keep logs or they are extremely limited in what information they hold, also they tend to be scrubbed hourly.

Sorry OOTB for proving you are wrong, I know that you’ll probably just ignore this answer and all the others as we are wrong based upon your unique view of the real world.

DoxAvg says:

Rule #1

Ever since Clinton’s term was up

Clinton? Really? The one who tried to mandate the Clipper chip, and make it illegal to have encryption that the government didn’t have keys to? That Clinton?

You’d have to go back further than that. Let’s see… Former CIA chief? Nope. Guy who spent tax dollars on foreign terrorists? Nope.

I’m not sure how far back you have to go to find a president that actually viewed the Constitution as his defining mandate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Anybody wonders why you don’t hear that Iranian or Chinese dissidents use VPN’s?

Because they die if they use it.
Anything strong enough to keep the creeps out will also attract bandits, so people need to learn first to live with it or do without freedom, personally I prefer the bandits, they are a bit less scary than big brother.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why would someone need a VPN connection? To circumvent a firewall? The second question doesn’t seem to indicate a concern of privacy but rather a concern with annonimity. Why would you want to be annonymous. I am sitting here trying to figure out a legitimate reason why anyone would want a VPN connection today. A reason that does not involve piracy, circumventing regional restrictions, or hacking. TechDirt is ratting out VPN services that retain connection records, and you claim that you don’t support piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:


If you live in China, Iran, or under any oppresive regime, OR you are helping those, OR you care about your privacy on the internet *because its important to you*

Just because you are interested in these things (or live in Iran or China, etc) does not mean you are interested in piracy.

There is more to the internet than piracy.

Some people would just like to be anonymous. Maybe their ex-girlfriend is a serious stalker. Or their ex-husband is homicidal. Or they just don’t want the ad companies to log their visits (they would be logging the VPN, not the end user)

Seriously, think about the world from a different angle.

Anonymous American says:


Why would you want to be annonymous. [sic]

I have a great desire to be left the hell alone and remain unmonitored by my government.

I am sitting here trying to figure out a legitimate reason why anyone would want a VPN connection today.

I have a great desire to be left the hell alone and remain unmonitored by my government.

A reason that does not involve piracy, circumventing regional restrictions, or hacking.

I have a great desire to be left the hell alone and remain unmonitored by my government.

A Guy (profile) says:


Enlighten us…

In your foggy mind, what is the difference between privacy and anonymity?

I’ll give you a hint. There is none.

To answer your questions:
“Why would someone need a VPN connection?”

There are several reasons. To prevent snooping and dpi by unwanted parties like private investigators or to protect trade secrets, military secrets, or any other legitimate secret from prying eyes. VPNs are used in nearly all corporate, military, and governmental infrastructure to keep out prying eyes.

Why would you want to be anonymous?

Maybe you want to communicate with loved one serving over seas without prying eyes getting ideas about troop movements or locations. Maybe you want to communicate with your employer without being known to everyone on the network. Maybe you want to communicate with a private investigator without your spouse knowing. Maybe you want to cheat on your wife.

Throughout history, there have been many, many reasons to want to be anonymous.

Bas Grasmayer (profile) says:


Well, here’s one example.

I used to live in Turkey where the web was censored and I was seriously worried about the government knocking on my door for blogging about them in a critical way. There’s a law in Turkey which outlaws “un-Turkish” behaviour or discourse.

Also, I travel a lot and use public WiFi’s… I don’t want to risk identity theft or people being able to get into my data.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


I use a VPN all the time, not for piracy or even anonymity (that’s just a side benefit) but for security. My VPN makes it harder for to read my mail in transit. It lets me have access to the servers and network in my house from anywhere, without worrying too much about hackers or eavesdroppers (who might want to get info to use for identity or credit card theft). I like being about to print on my printer at home no matter where I may be. I like having all of my email stored on a machine I control and have secure access to. I like being able to connect a computer anywhere in the world to my home LAN as if it were physically there.

There are tons of legitimate reasons to want encryption and privacy. For example, I do not want information to be gathered about me for tracking purposes of any sort, such as advertising. Using my VPN + a proxy, I can keep my physical location from them and prevent them from looking at my network packets.

Wayne Andersen (profile) says:


Well since you asked, I can give you one very good reason, and many other general reasons.

As a system admin and security researcher, I frequently have the need to trace back and or investigate certain pieces of malware.

I do not want to alert my target to my identity or even the subnet that I am coming from as this could provide valuable information about which of their attacks was recognized.

A second point you may want to consider is why should I have to have a specific reason to be anonymous. Why should I have to reveal my identity to check the weather, read news, engage in political commentary, or exchange naughty messages with my wife?

Anonymous Coward says:



One example is for people on certain ISP’s that have trouble with games like World of Warcraft. The traffic that WoW creates and uses for updating (p2p) is not handled well on some ISPs.

Users will have high latency, disconnects, etc.

So, some users that are playing on a server across the country will pay for a VPN service that is on the same ‘tube’ that the WoW server is on…better latency…better game play, less disconnects.

Ain’t a dang thing illegal or ‘piraty’ about any of it.

As much as you guys think the world revolves around you, it doesn’t. There is a lot of other things going on in the world that have nothing to do with music or movies.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Rule #1

“It is possible to bring that smile back. I got a dog. If you treat a dog right, they are friendly, loyal, hard working, and willing to give of themselves for their clan.

They’re about the polar opposite of a politician.”

No Way!! Not polar opposites at all. Mostly the same.

Just ask Jack Abramoff. If you treat a politician right (ie. support their re-election, offer a future job as a lobbyist, fund their SuperPAC), they are friendly, loyal, hard working (for you), and willing to give of themselves for their clan.

Are you in their clan? It’s easy to tell. If you’ve had two or fewer closed-door meetings with the pol, then no, you are surely not.

darryl says:

VPN have to log data to work !!!

You are most certainly drawing more attention to yourself and your activities by employing a VPN.

Sure, there are valid reasons why you might want to use a VPN but as has been explained here there are many ‘other’ reasons as well.

It also has little to do with the specific VPN provider, it is not something really within their control.

If you believe “the authorities” cannot monitor the traffic going into and out of a VPN then you do not understand much about how the internet works.

The VPN HAS to hold records of you activities, (records are logs), otherwise they would not be able to provide you with that service !!!

if an IP address is accessing the VPN and the VPN is in turn accessing another IP address, and the same IP’s keep comming up at the same time, you do not need the ‘logs’ to work out that the VPN server is that IP to the clients IP.

If you log into your VPN they have to know who you are (you have an account), they have to know your IP and details, and your login info.

But if you honestly think that a VPN would not hold the records of your connection times, and the IP addresses that the server has accessed you are quite clueless.

If you are going to do something illegal, you might consider using a VPN, the ‘authorities’ know this so one of the first places they will ‘check out’ is these ‘hot spots’ of illegal activity.

Especially the ones who claim they do not hold records !!

The best way to avoid conflict with the law is not the break the law.

It is not the best way to avoid conflict with the law by trying to circumvent or ‘get around’ the law by deceptive means.

Seems like this article is about wanting to break the law, and complaining about that being difficult, and complaining that other companies are not willing to assist you in breaking or possibly breaking laws.

Anonymous and private are not the same thing, a private person says nothing, an Anonymous is not ‘private’ but the opposite to private, ie, public.

A private person does not say anything, an anonymous person wants to say lots but does not have the balls to put his name to it.

If you do not even have the conviction of your claims to put your name to it, then you are Anonymous.

You can say whatever lies you like as an anonymous commenter, because no one can question you specificially on your claims.

That is how the anonymous want it… true cowards..

HideMyNet (user link) says:

100K fine

The sales tech was confused regarding the fine. I believe the fines that were mentioned were regards to CAN-SPAM Act and not DMCA.

HideMyNet does not currently meet “Safe-Harbour” criteria. If you’re a traffic middle man it does not mean you receive “Safe-Harbour” status automatically. This is where our current zero tolerance policy comes from. We’re working toward receiving Safe-Harbour status so we can be a little more lax regarding Acceptable Use.

However, it is true that you will not find a VPN provider anywhere with USA endpoints that does not log. If a VPN provider is unable to respond to complaints via their uplinks in the US they will be cut off. If a company says they don’t log but have USA endpoints they’re lying or having to switch uplink providers every week.

In regards to “Classy, HideMyNet. Inventing a $100,000 fine to scare potential customers into using your service instead of a competitor’s.”

To be quite blunt, I don’t know any vpn provider that would want pirates as customers. They’re the most time consuming, least profitable, annoying/whiny of any customers or potential customers I’ve encountered.

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