We live in a highly privacy-focused environment where knowing a bit about online VPN applications and how the technology is used will help strengthen your ability to navigate the future of digital privacy laws.
In the past year, the number of Australians using services that protect online digital privacy like a Tor browser or a VPN increased to 16% of the total population. That is roughly 1 in 5 people aged 18-34 paying to keep their identity a secret from Big Tech and government overreach.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not because of a sudden surge in criminal activity. VPN application usage is common among a broad audience of journalists, scientific researchers, and even everyday users who are looking for digital privacy and do not want to be tracked when shopping for a new pair of shoes.
Learning about this technology ensures that you and your family will have a way to communicate with the outside world in case restrictions are put in place to stop the freedom of online exploration.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a virtual private network. In the simplest terms, this connects your PC, smartphone, or tablet to another computer somewhere on the internet and then allows you to browse the internet using that connected computer’s identity.
Essentially it is a fake ID of the computer world. It allows you to anonymise the identifiable factors of your usual browsing activity like your MAC address or IP.
VPNs are also used to access geolocated restricted website locations while shielding your activity from people who are trying to spy on what you are doing.
They are also incredibly useful tools as safety measures. If you are going to browse using a public WiFi access point, a VPN protects you from other people gaining access to your local machine.
When Was VPN Created – What is the VPN History?
VPNs began like most technical things, as a necessity. In 1996, Microsoft was facing growing revenues and intense competition. Their version of Microsoft 97 was just released to the public, and hackers wanted to get their hands on everything.
To combat these security flaws, employees created a point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTN) that made a secure network between specific workstations. This formed a tunnel over a LAN connection that made it impossible for anyone not part of the network to spy on the files being shared between different users.
This type of PPTN remained in use until around the early 2000s, when other forms of VPNs grew out of businesses trying to defend against data breaches. Little by little, the private sector bled into the public sector, and VPNs became a widely used application.
It is important to pause here and mention Tor, otherwise known as the Onion Router. This is a little different from a VPN because it is decentralized. A VPN application uses predetermined routers and networks, whereas Tor could be machines in places you will never know. Tor was also developed as a U.S. military application at the Naval Research Laboratory in the 1990s.
That is the basic VPN history timeline. Since after 9/11, when the Freedom of Information Act was created, VPN applications grew in use and spread throughout the world.
Today, you can find everyone from criminal enterprises to the Ukrainians fighting Russia using VPN services in order to get around regulations and government oversight. Most heavily regulated countries like China, North Korea, and even some areas of the United States have citizens using VPNs to get around censorship issues.
Why Should I Use VPN Applications?
The point is to have the freedom of digital privacy to browse anything you want without someone watching over your shoulder or tracking your activity. Some of the more important benefits of a quality VPN application include:
- Getting around regional restrictions on websites or social media
- Watching streaming services not available in your country
- Protecting yourself from hackers on public WiFi hotspots
- Maintaining anonymity in the online space
- Protect yourself while torrenting larger files
Are VPNs Legal in Australia?
The short answer is yes. VPN history includes mass proliferation among Australians who are tuned in to digital privacy concerns. However, there is a caveat.
In 2015 the Australian government passed a set of laws that targeted specific sites deemed unacceptable. In some cases, this made perfect sense because it helped shut down harmful sites around child protective issues. In other cases, it is viewed as an “internet filter” because it also created blocks to websites that allowed piracy. This type of censorship was deemed provocative because it went against the freedom of the online world.
While you can absolutely use a VPN in Australia, if you try to access certain sites, government watchdogs and local authorities may spend more time figuring out who you are. That includes contacting local ISP (internet service providers) to determine who is using a VPN and then marking their location as a suspect.
What are the Best VPN Applications for People in Australia?
In the VPN history of Australia, the best services are going to have the fastest speeds, highest reliability, and lowest pricing.
You have to remember that a VPN can slow down your internet connection by quite a bit. Think of it as driving a car. Instead of being on a big open road with expansive scenery, you are driving in a long tunnel that does not let any light in. A VPN is an artificial tunnel protecting you from prying eyes, but when you restrict the size of the straw you’re using to drink a soda, it makes it harder to get a big swig of liquid.
That being said, you can find a decent VPN in Australia for as low as $5.42/month. There are free services available, but often when something is free, it is because you are the product.
Our suggestion would be to check out this list:
- Atlas VPN
There are plenty of more advanced VPNs that are used in open-sourced devices like deGoogled tablets and phones, but this is a good list to get started.
To give you context, ExpressVPN is the one that was just acquired by Kape Technologies, an Israeli firm. That one used to be a top choice, but now it may not be worth the effort. You want your VPN services to be as independent as possible.
So What About Tor?
Tor by itself is a pretty powerful anonymizer for the online world, however, when combined with a quality VPN, it makes it next to impossible to track your movements. Yes, there are ways, but the resources required would be at the highly sensitive government agency level reserved for terrorists.
Australians can learn a lot from the VPN history of the tech world. VPNs provide a wonderful way to prevent Big Tech and government agencies from spying on your online activity and give you the digital privacy and anonymity needed to protect you and your family.
Installing and running a quality VPN takes very little technical skill and can provide you with the capability to get around local restrictions or regional barriers so you can access the content you want.
We at Freedom Technology and Services use VPNs as part of our refurbished computers and laptops services. We also make suggestions for installing VPNs on our deGoogled Phones and tablets. You can learn more about our products that take advantage of VPN technology and applications at our store.
With more online tracking happening now than any other time before, we highly suggest you begin to use a VPN for your home and business interests. There is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain your privacy no matter what site you visit next.