For those who want the security benefits of their own personal virtual private network (VPN) but are scared off by the idea of having to deal with such a techy thing, here is an alternative for you: AnchorFree.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company makes a popular freemium-based VPN called Hotspot Shield but shies away from calling it that, preferring to label it an “internet privacy platform.”
Nothing wrong with that. AnchorFree protects internet users’ privacy on many types of devices: Windows or Apple PCs and tablets or iOS or Android phones. If you really want to stay clear of hackers, malware and other online poisons, a secure network connection on each device is a good way to go—especially if you’re a mobile user.
The news July 26 is that AnchorFree, which CEO and founder David Gorodyansky told eWEEK has more than 550 million users (the freemium model does tend to attract people), has released a new toolset aimed at not only protecting the transfer of data but also at helping save net neutrality. This is a first-of-its-kind, free software development kit that empowers developers to protect their apps from internet service providers trying to throttle performance and collect user data.
Net Neutrality: All Data Should Be Treated the Same
For the record, net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment or mode of communication.
“Long live net neutrality,” Gorodyansky said. “We strongly believe that online privacy is a human right. Every user and app developer deserves the right to control their mobile experience. That’s why today we are launching a product that will preserve net neutrality for app developers and users.”
The new AnchorFree Software Development Kit comes at a pivotal time in the net neutrality debate. This year’s change in the U.S. federal government administration has brought new debate as to whether ISPs should have the clearance to control the flow of data over their lines.
While ISPs continue their fight, consumers and app developers continue to fight for their rights to uninterrupted, high-speed, high-quality web access, Gorodyansky said. While net neutrality was supported by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration, the FCC under the current president has declared it does not believe it is the government’s role to preserve net neutrality.
SDK Will Override Any Non-Neutrality Online
With so much uncertainty around the issue, AnchorFree developed the SDK that maintains net neutrality, Gorodyansky said.
“In the case that net neutrality is repealed and ISPs gain the ability to censor, slow down, or throttle access to certain sites and applications, any app developer can now add AnchorFree’s SDK to protect their app and the privacy of its users,” Gorodyansky said.
The new SDK allows internet companies that use a large amount of bandwidth–such as Netflix, Spotify, YouTube and thousands of others that stream video and music–to use the Hotspot Shield VPN to send their traffic through the company’s secure servers. This process prevents ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others from tracking what apps are used, censoring or throttling traffic, or collecting any user data.
AnchorFree’s approach to privacy and internet freedom already has already been well-received Gorodyansky said.
“About 3 or 4 percent of our 550 million users are paying customers within our freemium model,” he told eWEEK.
Most Security Vendors Now Reselling AnchorFree
About 75 percent of the world’s largest security companies, including security powerhouse McAfee, Inc., Cheetah Mobile and others already have integrated AnchorFree’s VPN into their own products. 550 million users have downloaded AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield application worldwide, Gorodyansky said.
Earlier this year, Gorodyansky said, more than 2 million Americans downloaded the company’s Hotspot Shield application in the first 30 days after the FCC rolled back regulations that prevented ISPs from collecting and selling user data.
“Most companies address net neutrality as a policy issue; we are responding to the challenge by launching a real product solution that can be used by app developers to protect their service and their users,” Gorodyansky said. “The government may decide to roll back online privacy and net neutrality regulation, but the private sector can self-regulate and ensure a free and open internet.”