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US Secret Service Subpoena and Our Reply

TL;DR read one of the subpoenas we’ve received from the United States Secret Service and our response to it (“We have no documents or records…”)

We Don’t Log Your Activity and We’ll Prove It

Some people think that VPN companies in the United States can’t possibly keep you private. That’s simply not true: companies in the US have the freedom to say to the government screw off when subpoenaed for information they don’t have. And that’s what we do at FoxyProxy.

We get many subpoenas from various government agencies — some from the US federal government, some from US state governments, and some from governments outside of the US (most recently France). Our response to these subpoenas is always the same: we have nothing. And that’s because we don’t log anything about you. How can we provide information about our customers’ activity when we don’t have it?

We can do this because there are no data retention laws in the US, unlike in the EU and many other countries.

To prove it, we’re sharing a subpoena and our response. This one is from the United States Secret Service,¬†July 2017, with our response in September 2017. We’ve redacted names and phone numbers to, ironically, maintain the privacy of the Secret Service agent and prosecutor responsible for the subpoena ūüôā

Click the image for the complete document and our response.

Some VPN Companies Lie

Some of our competitors, like PureVPN and WANSecurity, thinks it’s ok to lie to their customers about their privacy policy and then share tracking information with the FBI:

The logs showed how within the span of minutes the same VPN IP address had logged into Lin’s real Gmail address […] PureVPN was later able to link the stalking activity with Lin’s home and work IPs. The information in the affidavit may shock some PureVPN customers, as the company boldly advertises on its privacy policy page that it does not keep any logs.

As of this writing, PureVPN’s privacy policy page still says, “You are Invisible ‚Äď Even We Cannot See What You Do Online. We Do Not monitor user activity nor do we keep any logs. We therefore have no record of your activities such as which software you used, which websites you visited, what content you downloaded, which apps you used, etc.”

There’s no reason to think this incident is the first or last from PureVPN and WANSecurity.

Another VPN provider,¬†HotSpot Shield, is dealing with a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission alleging they collect data and intercept traffic… a contradiction of their privacy policy to “never log or store user data.”

What Can You Do?

There are many websites that tell you to choose your VPN provider based on privacy and logging alone. That’s not enough. They forget to compare VPN performance, customer support, and native access (connecting to your VPN provider without having to install their proprietary software–which often has malware, advertising, or tracking).

They forget to tell you who is the real customer for most VPN providers: the venture capitalists. The investors. The people who financed the company. They want their money back, and with interest. The VPN company can give that quicker and bigger if they monetize you.

Since our inception in 2006, FoxyProxy has had no investors. We’ve had many such opportunities and passed them over: we won’t compromise our customers for a dollar. We don’t need the money and we don’t need to sell out our loyal following.

 

Bye for Now to Our Firefox Browser API

Similar to our earlier announcement about end-of-life for FoxyProxy Plus For Firefox, we’re announcing the end of our Firefox Browser API, at least for now. This includes the javascript API,¬†the proxy:// protocol, and the command-line interface.

These changes will take effect with the next major release of FoxyProxy Standard, Plus, and Basic for Firefox, likely in August 2017 but definitely before Firefox 57 in November 2017. This is because WebExtensions are going to be the only supported way of developing Firefox add-ons by November 2017.  And WebExtensions do not yet support the capabilities we need for our API.

This API was the only one its kind offered by any proxy add-on, for any browser. Among other things, it enabled websites to manipulate your proxy settings (with your permission). For example, with the proxy:// protocol, you could¬†click a link on a webpage and have your Firefox proxy settings changed automatically–no tweaking on your part. This was commonly used by websites that published free proxy server lists… click a link, change your proxy server. Don’t like¬†that one? Click another link on the webpage to change your proxy server again. But no more.

With the javascript API, a website could build an entire proxy and URL pattern editor and allow you to instrument FoxyProxy right from a webpage. But no more.

With the command-line interface, you could change which proxy was enabled/disabled right at start-up browser start-up. This was perfect for use with PhantomJS or Selenium. Again, no more.

Once support for these features return to Firefox add-ons, we’ll re-implement them.

 

FoxyProxy Plus: possible end-of-life in November 2017

FoxyProxy Plus on Firefox

Note: Don’t confuse¬†FoxyProxy Plus with FoxyProxy Standard and FoxyProxy Basic! Support for Standard and Basic aren’t going away!

FoxyProxy Plus, a Firefox extension that we started selling on April 22, 2009¬†and our only closed-source product for many years, is likely going away. Although we’ve been updating FoxyProxy Plus over the years to stay compatible with Firefox, we stopped selling it some years ago, so this should not affect any but the most die-hard of fans. You can see our current page for it isn’t complete and doesn’t allow you to purchase it.

Mozilla announced in February 2017¬†that support for legacy addons will be dropped when Firefox 57 is released on November 14, 2017. FoxyProxy Plus is a legacy addon. Due to technical limitations with Firefox 57 and above, it may not be possible to port FoxyProxy Plus to Firefox’s new platform. We are still researching this, but wanted to tell you now so you can prepare for the possible¬†drop in support of this product. You’ll still be able to use FoxyProxy Plus with versions of Firefox older than 57. Mozilla will tell you not to use old versions of Firefox, however, due to security holes that are plugged in every new version.

The two features that FoxyProxy Plus adds above and beyond the other editions of FoxyProxy for Firefox are:

  • Switch proxies based on your current local (LAN) IP address, rather than the typical URL (website) address.
  • URL Training. Click a button to automatically add URL patterns for any/all URLs on a page.

Thanks to all of you who purchased licenses of FoxyProxy Plus over the years! We will update this blog when we know if we’ll be able to port FoxyProxy Plus to Firefox 57 and above.

Now offering SOCKS5 and HTTPS proxy service, free with all paid accounts!

We now offer 2 more ways for you to connect to your paid FoxyProxy account:

  • SOCKS5¬†proxy
  • HTTPS proxy

This is in addition to the previous ways we already offered:

  • HTTP proxy
  • PPTP VPN
  • OpenVPN

SOCKS5 Proxies

SOCKS5 is an internet protocol which sends data between you and your destination (e.g. facebook.com) using a proxy server. For users of HTTP proxy servers, this is nothing new.

proxyserver

So what’s different about SOCKS5? Why bother with it?

Why should I use a SOCKS5 proxy server instead of HTTP(S) proxy servers?

Using SOCKS5 is a great option if the main goal is downloading torrents/P2P or the use of other software that is not web-based like browsers… for example, uTorrent, deluge, transmission,¬†and instant messenger software like Skype.

There are many benefits of using SOCKS proxy servers. We list some of them here:

All kinds of traffic can be accommodated

Unlike HTTP proxies which only work with webpages, SOCKS5 proxies work with any kind of traffic. This is because SOCKS5 proxy servers bundle or wrap any kind of internet traffic from any program.

Better performance with Torrents and P2P

Compared to HTTP and HTTPS proxy servers, SOCKS5 can offer faster download speeds and overall performance for smaller bits of data

[tech] SOCKS5 proxies implement full UDP, they enable users to connect to all the peers in a swarm, which results in better download speeds and overall performance.

If the SOCKS5 proxy server¬†were to be interrupted,¬†your P2P/torrent process would stop communicating… keeping your IP address secure.

Better performance than HTTP Proxies

The performance for some HTTP proxies can suffer because the proxy server rewrites data packet headers. SOCKS5 proxy servers do not rewrite data packet headers, so there is less overhead and faster connection times.

Reliable and efficient connections

SOCKS5 proxy servers use both TCP and UDP protocols . TCP is an internet protocol that forms a connection between a client and a server, making sure that all the packets arrive from one side to the other. It requires fitting the content into a fixed format so that it can be transferred easily.

UDP is an internet protocol that does not focus on whether all packets from a client or a server reach to the other side and in the same order. Therefore, UDP is more efficient than TCP in that it does not waste time in converting the data packets into a proper stream or fixed packets that are sent upon establishing a connection. A¬†combination of these two means¬†that a user is guaranteed a reliable and efficient performance from his internet connection. This is what your normal internet connection gives your —¬†and what¬†SOCKS5 proxy servers give you, but not an HTTP or HTTPS proxy server.

HTTPS proxies

You already get HTTP proxy servers with you paid FoxyProxy account. So what is an HTTPS proxy?

Security

When you use an HTTP proxy server, the data sent between you and the proxy server is unencrypted…even if you visit a website like https://facebook.com. The¬†data between the proxy server and the https://facebook.com¬†IS¬†encrypted… but not the data between you and the proxy server.proxyserver

HTTPS proxy servers encrypt the data between you and the proxy server: 1.1.1.1 and 2.2.2.2 in the diagram. The data between 2.2.2.2 and the destination website is encrypted when the browser bar shows https:// or has a green padlock. So, using an HTTPS proxy server is more secure than using an HTTP proxy server.

How to use it?

Unfortunately, support for HTTPS proxy servers with authentication is limited in web browsers today. It’s quite complicated to configure them. But we’re working on step-by-step instructions for those who google the process and can’t follow along with the instructions that are already out there. The key point here is that authentication is required in the browser so that you can enter a username/password to access your paid FoxyProxy account.