In our continuing series of Dispelling the Myths, let’s talk about a legitimate concern that many users have when they decide to pay for a VPN service: When you hand over your personal information including payment details, you’re no longer anonymous and your activity can be traced to you.
What Information Does Hide.me Collect?
We are staunch supporters of online privacy and the right to remain anonymous. This isn’t just an empty promise – It’s reflected in the way that we do business. Let’s talk about our free and paid options, and the data we receive for both.
For the free plan, all we ask for is your email and a password. That’s it. We need your email because it’s a unique identifier to register an account under, otherwise we have nothing to go on. Your email is only personally identifiable if you make it that way – like using firstname.last[email protected], which you definitely shouldn’t do in the first place. We never see what your password actually is because we follow the industry standard practice of hashing the password and comparing that hash against the stored one when you signed up for an account. We don’t collect any other data like your name, address, or phone number, because there’s no need for it. The competition might argue that we need detailed user data for metrics and demographic research, but we’d rather lose money from not having those insights, than compromise our values and hoard unnecessary data.
For the paid plans, we collect the same email address and password hash, and we also receive an Order ID after you complete checkout with our payment gateways. We don’t handle any of the order processing, and the checkout page on our website only captures what plan and duration is selected by the user. The payment processor completes the order with your bank/PayPal, or confirms it on the blockchain if you use cryptocurrency. When you proceed to checkout from our website, we forward your user ID to the payment processor so they can map a payment to the correct user. Your personal information stays with the chosen payment gateway and is never sent to us – we don’t have access into their systems to look it up even if we wanted to. In this way, your personal information is never matched to your VPN account. Ignoring the fact that we don’t ever log your browsing data to begin with, this separation means that your activity can never be matched to you personally.
It’s a legitimate concern to worry about your anonymity when you decide to start paying for a VPN because your personal information becomes exposed. While our competitors may decide to collect data from paid customers, we stand by our values and do not collect any personally-identifiable information regardless of whether you’re a free or paid user.