With high profile commentary from those in public office who are against peoples’ right to anonymity and encryption, and many others asking who has the right to do or say what they want online, the role of VPNs (opens in new tab) has never been more in the spotlight.
Against this backdrop many have asked, do ‘normal people’ actually need or care about online privacy and VPNs? Well the answer to that is a resounding yes.
VPNs are not a ‘get out of jail free card’ for people who want to break the law and get away with it, they’re a vital tool for everyday web users who want to safeguard their personal data.
Educating people on digital privacy
However, one of the biggest challenges facing VPN providers, one that’s closely related to their own survival, is educating people on what digital privacy actually means and why it’s important.
The good news is that the biggest challenges for the future can often give us the greatest opportunities.
Vocal opposition to online privacy may seem like a threat, but this can be used as a platform by companies like HMA! to advocate for policies that protect and safeguard peoples’ fundamental right to online privacy.
Certainly in the near future, this ongoing public discussion will be an important – and ironically very public – battleground for VPN supporters. So what can they expect in the future?
Advancement of technology
Fundamentally, the rapid and unfettered advancement of technology will shape the defining characteristics of future VPN (opens in new tab) solutions. An increasingly complex online environment calls for the development of personalised products for users who know the value of their online data.
Faster internet speeds through 5G (opens in new tab) and connected technologies are just two of the advances that will help the VPN market to grow and expand.
Increasing speed is expected to facilitate a huge network of IoT (opens in new tab) devices, Gartner has predicted that 20.8 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. This will massively extend the scenarios for which an encrypted internet connection is required in our everyday lives. VPNs will play a crucial role in protecting personal information and privacy.
Just as the types of devices we use are likely to change, so too are our encryption preferences. This opens the door to more personalised forms of privacy, where users can easily pick and choose between different products and encryption levels that work for their different needs.
But common and widespread adoption of VPN technology, which is coming, will take longer if we fail to put users front and centre. For many, a VPN sounds like another piece of niche technology that they don’t need and can’t understand – but it doesn’t have to be.
Anything that has an acronym seems complicated, but using a VPN these days really isn't that tough. Making accessibility a priority, alongside advocacy and innovation, will secure the future of the VPN (opens in new tab).
- Brad Poole, Consumer Security Expert at HMA! (opens in new tab)