Earlier this month we reported on National Get a VPN Day in Australia as the regulations in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill kicked in and ISPs and telecoms firms began to be required to collect data on the internet usage of all their customers.
This law had been a controversial one back in 2015 when it was passed and on 13th April, it’s official implementation deadline, it got no shortage of coverage either.
And it seems that this coverage of the loss of online freedom was not in vein and a growing number of Australian internet users are now switching to a VPN to protect themselves online.
On the 13th April itself, Google saw a huge rise in the number of searches for the term VPN. The figures more than doubled on that day and on subsequent days the number of searches remained consistently higher than on previous days.
Patterns repeating across the globe
This is not the first time such a pattern has been seen in countries where intrusive new surveillance laws have been passed.
In the USA, where the Trump administration has recently rolled back the FCCs online privacy regulations, there was a significant spike in interest in VPNs, with both Google and individual VN providers reporting traffic increases of between 50% and 100%.
The UK saw a similar pattern being played out in the wake of their Investigatory Powers Act, which required similar data storage from ISPs as Australian citizens are currently facing up to.
On the day that the Investigatory Powers Act received royal approval and officially came into law, there was a spike in Google searches for VPNs as well, but this can be seen as part of a steadily rising trend in VPN interest over the past year. As the UK now has the most intrusive and comprehensive online surveillance system anywhere in the democratic world, this should come as no surprise.
Google data suggests that this is a trend which has been seen globally. Interest in VPN as a topic has grown by around 50% over the past year, with specific global spikes also being seen to coincide with major online surveillance laws being passed in different countries.
The impact of media coverage
It is interesting that global media coverage of these new laws is seeing a global interest in VPN interest as well as a more predictable domestic interest. This means that even when an intrusive new law doesn’t directly impact on people, they are still more conscious of their online privacy and security as a result.
But above all, what this does emphasize is that when people are concerned about online privacy issues, the solution they turn to consistently appears to be a VPN. This is because a VPN is both the most effective and affordable tool to defend your online security and privacy.
With a VPN, everything you do online is encrypted and rerouted through an external server. This means your online data can be both secure and anonymous. This protects against the prying eyes of government surveillance officers who might be snooping on your data but also stops ISPs from being able to collect and store any meaningful, or profitable, data they might want.
Whilst VPN use is on the rise, many more people could benefit from the protections they offer. The new laws put in place in Australia, the USA, and the UK, and other places too, are applied to every internet user across the board.
To ensure both safety and security online, everyone should really be plugged into a VPN at all times when online. There is some way to go before that becomes a reality, but it is encouraging to see the trends moving in the right direction.