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Hotspot Shield VPN throws your privacy in the fire, injects ads, JS into browsers – claim
CDT tries to set fed trade watchdog on internet biz
By Thomas Claburn in San Francisco 7 Aug 2017 at 20:20

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a digital rights advocacy group, on Monday urged US federal trade authorities to investigate VPN provider AnchorFree for deceptive and unfair trade practices.

AnchorFree claims its Hotspot Shield VPN app protects netizens from online tracking, but, according to a complaint filed with the FTC, the company’s software gathers data and its privacy policy allows it to share the information.

Worryingly, it is claimed the service forces ads and JavaScript code into people’s browsers when connected through Hotspot Shield: “The VPN has been found to be actively injecting JavaScript codes using iframes for advertising and tracking purposes.”

“Hotspot Shield tells customers that their privacy and security are ‘guaranteed’ but their actual practices starkly contradict this,” said Michelle De Mooy, Director of CDT’s Privacy & Data Project, in a statement. “They are sharing sensitive information with third party advertisers and exposing users’ data to leaks or outside attacks.”

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IP address and unique device identifiers are generally considered to be private personal information, but AnchorFree’s Privacy Policy explicitly exempts this data from its definition of Personal Information.

“Contrary to Hotspot Shield’s claims, the VPN has been found to be actively injecting JavaScript codes using iFrames for advertising and tracking purposes,” the complaint says, adding that the VPN uses more than five different third-party tracking libraries.

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