30 votes

Private Internet Access VPN acquired by Kape Technologies for US$127.6 million

14 comments

  1. [5]
    balooga
    Link
    This morning PIA published a blog post about the acquisition. The post includes a summary of Kape Technologies' 8 "guiding principles" and the obligatory promise that PIA isn't "selling out."...

    This morning PIA published a blog post about the acquisition. The post includes a summary of Kape Technologies' 8 "guiding principles" and the obligatory promise that PIA isn't "selling out."

    Three months ago Restore Privacy published a comprehensive write-up of the CyberGhost VPN, which was also acquired by Kape Technologies (formerly "Crossrider") in 2017. The article is notable for its deep dive into the company and its track record. Here are some highlights:

    • A link to this Malwarebytes writeup about Crossrider's browser hijacking adware bundle, and a newer one about a variant of the Crossrider installer that masquerades as an Adobe Flash Player installer.
    • Proof that connection logs are being retained to some extent, even though the company advertises its "strict no logs policy."
    • A mention that the company site "uses aggressive tracking measures." In fairness, this article was originally written some time ago and my tests fared much more favorably on the current site. Firefox tracking protection and uBlock Origin both blocked zero requests.

    My personal opinions: I have been a satisfied customer of PIA for several years. The company has a great track record and reputation in the privacy / activism community. Kape Technologies, on the other hand, does not appear to be built on the same foundational principles. Looks to me like their history is full of deceptive, scammy, adware-laden practices. I have a real bad feeling about this.

    On the other hand, this announcement comes with the news that PIA's parent company was US$32.1 million in debt. This acquisition will settle all balances and should provide them with financial stability for the foreseeable future. But at what cost? I guess only time will tell.

    17 votes
    1. Deimos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Well, if PIA was over $30M in debt, obviously whatever they were doing wasn't working from a business perspective, so "keep doing everything exactly the same" can't really be an option after the...

      Well, if PIA was over $30M in debt, obviously whatever they were doing wasn't working from a business perspective, so "keep doing everything exactly the same" can't really be an option after the acquisition.

      Kape's stock jumped by over 30% on the acquisition though, so it's definitely looking good from their end so far.

      12 votes
    2. [3]
      Eabryt
      Link Parent
      Disappointing to see Kape's track record. I've been with PIA for at least 4 years now, and while I've used it significantly less these last two years, I still keep a subscription for the random...

      Disappointing to see Kape's track record. I've been with PIA for at least 4 years now, and while I've used it significantly less these last two years, I still keep a subscription for the random times I need it. I wonder if I'll have to find another service.

      9 votes
      1. [2]
        balooga
        Link Parent
        This endorsement from Rick Falkvinge is probably the main reason I signed up with PIA in the first place. I'm very interested to hear his thoughts post-acquisition.

        This endorsement from Rick Falkvinge is probably the main reason I signed up with PIA in the first place. I'm very interested to hear his thoughts post-acquisition.

        4 votes
        1. mrbig
          Link Parent
          I met Falkvinge at the foundation[1] of Brazil's Pirate Party in 2013, of which I'm a founding member. He was extremely patient with our endless discussions, of which he could not understand...

          I met Falkvinge at the foundation[1] of Brazil's Pirate Party in 2013, of which I'm a founding member. He was extremely patient with our endless discussions, of which he could not understand anything. I offered to translate, but he said he preferred to use the time to work on his laptop. When he got to talk, a guy with terrible English translated for him at a very slow pace. I could do better, but replacing the poor guy on the spot might hurt his ego. Nevertheless, Falkvinge showed no signs of distress.

          I don't remember a word he said, and frankly, that was not the most important thing. The mere fact that he took the time and money to come to a forgotten (in comparison to others of the same size) Latin-American country to see the foundation of a Party was a statement in itself.

          I'm not a mind reader, but I liked the guy.

          [1] Not really a foundation, we have a long way to go and the law requires a bunch of almost impossible steps

          12 votes
  2. Neverland
    (edited )
    Link
    I was curious what Linus Tech Tips was going to do, as PIA is a major advertiser on LTT. Well, they care a lot about this apparently. They have already suspended all PIA ads until a final decision...

    I was curious what Linus Tech Tips was going to do, as PIA is a major advertiser on LTT.

    Well, they care a lot about this apparently. They have already suspended all PIA ads until a final decision is made. They claim to be leaving the final decision up to their viewers.
    https://youtu.be/mRMxNiEMqmM?t=2840

    Boy, it sure is interesting how decision making is changed when you live and die by tweets and memes.

    edit: yes, I admit to watching the WAN show, old habits...

    7 votes
  3. tomf
    Link
    In 2017 PIA and Freenode shacked up. I wonder if this acquisition will have any impact on FN. I'm not too concerned, but it's something I'll be keeping an eye on. PIA is pretty good. I like that...

    In 2017 PIA and Freenode shacked up. I wonder if this acquisition will have any impact on FN. I'm not too concerned, but it's something I'll be keeping an eye on.

    PIA is pretty good. I like that they provide OVPN profiles instead of forcing everybody to use their application.

    5 votes
  4. [7]
    sniper24
    Link
    What's a good alternative to PIA, which does not store logs?

    What's a good alternative to PIA, which does not store logs?

    4 votes
    1. chandler
      Link Parent
      As others have noted, Mullvad is great. BUT, if you're looking for a (cheaper) alternative, I recommend Windscribe.

      As others have noted, Mullvad is great. BUT, if you're looking for a (cheaper) alternative, I recommend Windscribe.

      2 votes
    2. [3]
      ubergeek
      Link Parent
      RiseUp. And, even if you don't use them, please donate to them. They, at the very least, set the minimum standards for what a privacy conscious organization should offer users. And, they're not...

      RiseUp. And, even if you don't use them, please donate to them. They, at the very least, set the minimum standards for what a privacy conscious organization should offer users. And, they're not just a VPN service, but host a number of privacy focused services.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Soptik
        Link Parent
        RiseUp was compromised in 2016 by a three-letter agency. They didn’t update and refused to update their canary. They even released this tweet when asked about the canary. It probably doesn’t...

        RiseUp was compromised in 2016 by a three-letter agency. They didn’t update and refused to update their canary.

        They even released this tweet when asked about the canary.

        It probably doesn’t matter for them, but it’s still worth noting.

        4 votes
        1. ubergeek
          Link Parent
          As of today, their canary is good to go: curl -s https://riseup.net/about-us/canary/canary-statement-signed.txt | gpg --auto-key-retrieve --verify gpg: Signature made Thu 31 Oct 2019 04:17:02 PM...

          As of today, their canary is good to go:

          curl -s https://riseup.net/about-us/canary/canary-statement-signed.txt | gpg --auto-key-retrieve --verify
          gpg: Signature made Thu 31 Oct 2019 04:17:02 PM UTC
          gpg:                using RSA key 4E0791268F7C67EABE88F1B03043E2B7139A768E
          gpg:                issuer "collective@riseup.net"
          gpg: Good signature from "Riseup Networks <collective@riseup.net>" [unknown]
          gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature!
          gpg:          There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.
          Primary key fingerprint: 4E07 9126 8F7C 67EA BE88  F1B0 3043 E2B7 139A 768E
          

          Also, please read their canary. They discuss the 2016 thing.

          Also: https://riseup.net/about-us/press/canary-statement

          But, again, make your own choice regarding the service you use.

          2 votes