On October 13th, 2015 Australia became one of the first developed countries to enable a nationwide metadata retention policy. All ISPs throughout Australia are now required to log and retain the metadata of all users for a period of two years and make it available to a range of law enforcement agencies when required.
While the threat of terrorist activity and from other nefarious groups is clearly a danger in Australia and other countries the blanket logging of metadata has caused widespread concern.
Metadata is the details of communications such as the sender, receiver, time, date and more. Who you converse with, who you email and when will form the bulk of collected data.
Although not all users are against such data collection the possibility of such data being hacked as has been widely seen elsewhere would be of great concern to myself and Australians or visitors to Australia can make steps to protect their metadata by making use of a VPN.
A VPN encrypts user data to a military grade making it impossible for the Australian authorities to decipher and as such would be impossible to store any information of worth.
So what’s the best VPN to avoid the Australian metadata retention law?
Below are the top 5 providers who will all be suitable for encrypting your data and fast enough to be used on a daily basis in Australia. All providers suggested claim to keep no activity logs and as such should make good choices for those of you in Australia. No provider suggested is based in Australia and Australian servers should be avoided just in case.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Australia
- Extremely fast.
- Plenty of local server choice.
- Suitable for beginners and experts.
- US company.
IPVanish is the top choice for those wanting to avoid the Australian metadata retention law. There are a wealth of reasons that make them my top choice for Australians and for those who are in Australia for any period of time and I’ll summarise them below, for a more in-depth look at the service as a whole check out my recent IPVanish Review.
Over the history of writing for this site I have found IPVanish to be one of the fastest and most reliable providers. In our monthly speed tests their servers regularly feature either top or in the top selection of providers. From a large VPN provider perspective, they are the fastest of those of similar size.
To combat the Australian metadata retention law you should consider connecting to servers outside of Australia of which IPVanish have many. Servers in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong would make ideal connection points from a speed perspective and allow you to be able to continue to use your internet connection with a minimum of speed loss.
Other servers in a close location include Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.
IPVanish requires no technical know-how and provide self-explanatory easy to use software for Windows PC and Mac computers and apps for Android and iOS devices such as the iPad and iPhone.
At just US$6.49 (Approx AU$9) per month when taking a yearly package or US$10.00 (Approx AU$13.80) if you choose to pay on a monthly basis it puts IPVanish in line with most providers in terms of cost and the quality of service you receive in comparison to others of a similar price makes them my top choice for beating the Australian metadata retention laws.[button-green url=”https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/ipvanish-com” target=”_blank” position=”center”] Visit IPVanish [/button-green]
- Easy to use.
- More worldwide servers than most.
- Not as fast as other providers.
- Above average prices.
ExpressVPN in terms of size are on a similar scale to IPVanish, they offer a huge amount of worldwide VPN servers which for the purpose of defeating Australian metadata retention is ideal.
Overall ExpressVPN has a slightly higher number of servers although the selection in close proximity to Australia is pretty much the same as above. Ideal locations include New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore and like the above provider they also have servers in Thailand, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and the addition of Vietnam.
While ExpressVPN has more servers overall worldwide these will be useful only if you have a specific purpose in a country they provide that one of the other providers don’t offer. You should stick to countries as close as possible to Australia which should, in theory, give you the best possible speeds.
I have found that ExpressVPN aren’t quite as fast as IPVanish which makes them my second choice for those wanting to defend against the Australia data retention law.
A full suite of software is available for PC and Mac with apps for Android and iOS phones, tablets and other such devices.
ExpressVPN works out slightly more expensive at US$8.32 (Approx AU$11.45) per month when taking a yearly subscription and US$12.95 (Approx AU$17.90) if paying month by month although they do offer a massive 30 day money back guarantee which gives you plenty of time to test the service.[button-green url=”https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/expressvpn-com” target=”_blank” position=”center”] Visit ExpressVPN [/button-green]
- Extremely fast network.
- Personal and friendly service.
- Only one server option close to Australia.
- No iOS app.
Let me start off by saying that LiquidVPN isn’t going to be everyone’s ideal solution for avoiding the Australian metadata retention issue but, and this is a big but, only because their server provision in the Australian region.
However, I’ve included LiquidVPN because of the high quality of their service and the often blisteringly fast server speeds. So looking to the positives LiquidVPN have a server in Singapore and like the rest of their servers they’re often utilised enough to make them safe for privacy purposes but not over utilised to the point of saturation and as such this is what makes their service one of the fastest I’ve tested.
LiquidVPN also have a Los Angeles, USA based server like both providers above and many Aussies use servers in that location to watch US Netflix and access other US services so essentially if it’s fast enough for streaming video then it’s likely to be fast enough for you to use on a daily basis.
PC and Mac software was recently released that is incredibly easy to use. As of writing this article they’re also working on Android software but for now they have step-by-step guides to set-up the service on Android or iOS devices which will be more suitable to those of you who like tinkering.
While being limited to pretty much one server won’t tick everyone’s needs the pricing per month of just US$4.75 (Approx AU$6.53) when signing up to a yearly subscription or US$7 (Approx AU$9.62) when paying monthly make them an extremely attractive option.[button-green url=”https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/liquidvpn-com” target=”_blank” position=”center”] Visit LiquidVPN [/button-green]
- Highly encryption orientated.
- None Australian or US based company.
- No iOS app.
- Fewer local servers than some others.
VPN.ac like LiquidVPN are smaller on scale in terms of servers available but do offer a greater range of locations within close proximity of Australia making them a more attractive option.
Servers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, as well as options on the west coast of the United States all make for useful options for those of you who want to defend against the retention of your metadata.
Although overall VPN.ac are smaller in scale in terms of servers available they do provide a superb service when it comes to speeds achievable, encryption employed and being a strong champion of privacy. Based in Romania the service will suit those who want to both avoid data retention in Australia but also put themselves further outside the reach of US agencies such as the NSA.
As with the other providers, connection is made simple with software for Windows and Mac and an app for Android. Like the other services listed this means protecting your privacy is so easy that even your grandmother could do it, within a few clicks you can be connected outside of Australia and then leave it running without the need to do anything more.
A kill switch on the desktop software stops any leaks if for some reason the VPN connection dropped.
US$4.84 (approx AU$6.63) per month for their yearly service is an absolute steal but if you prefer to pay monthly then their service will set you back US$9 (Approx AU$12.33) so I recommend you opt for the yearly service.[button-green url=”https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/vpn-ac” target=”_blank” position=”center”] Visit VPN.ac [/button-green]
- Free 3 day trial.
- Extensive VPN network.
- Not the fastest provider.
- Lowest tier package not comparable in features.
VyprVPN and their parent company are privacy fighters, often seen attending privacy related events in the United States. As a service they offer a huge range of VPN server locations making them one of the bigger VPN providers in the industry.
Like IPVanish and ExpressVPN they offer a large selection of servers in Asia making them an ideal solution if you want to avoid your usage being logged and retained due to the new metadata laws.
Servers in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia will all be great options for Australians and further choices in Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam round off the large selection of relatively near VPN server locations.
A full range of software and apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
VyprVPN allows you to test the service for free for 3 days although you will need to enter your payment details and if you don’t cancel before the 3 days are up you’ll automatically be charged for your first month. The VyprVPN Basic account is best avoided as it only allows PPTP connections that have been proven to be insecure to government meddling.
If you opt for VyprVPN then at a minimum take their Pro package which will set you back US$8.33 (Approx AU$11.40) per month on a yearly subscription or the higher price of US$14.99 per month, it would be my suggestion to consider the yearly account as the per month price is above average for the industry.[button-green url=”https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/vyprvpn-aus-data” target=”_blank” position=”center”] Visit VyprVPN [/button-green]
The fight to protect your privacy in Australia is not limited to only one area. Signing up to a reliable VPN provider that will endeavour to protect your privacy is the first step and could be considered the most critical.
However, although a VPN will certainly lead mostly to improved privacy there are other areas of consideration.
Consider thinking about the services you make use of and how many of them are Australian based. For example your local email service provided by your ISP is likely to be operated in Australia, using a VPN may disguise your IP address but ultimately personal details about you can still be logged including your name, your email address and when, who to and the subject of the email sent.
Using an email service provided by a non-Australian company can combat this such as Swiss based Protonmail, US based Gmail or Russian based Mail.ru. It may, however, be possible for the likes of the NSA to access Gmail and the Russian security services to access Mail.ru.
Choosing a VPN provider from the list above is the first step and further details on what to do and not do is provided by the Australian group GetUp whose Go dark against data retention campaign should give you further ideas of how to protect your privacy further.