You might think that a company called Hidemyass would do just that – but no. The VPN provider’s been forced to explain itself after admitting that it helped the authorities track down one of its users, an alleged LulzSec member.
The British company says that, although it had noticed its name popping up in IRC chats amogst hackers, it did nothing until it was issued with a court order – similar to a subpoena.
It calls itself a leading online privacy network, and promises anonymous internet surfing and anonymous encryption of all traffic: ‘Hide behind 18,000+ IPs,” it says.
However, according to Hidemyass, it’s simply daft to believe that the company actually will hide your ass when push comes to shove.
“Our VPN service and VPN services in general are not designed to be used to commit illegal activity,” it says on the company blog.
“It is very naive to think that by paying a subscription fee to a VPN service you are free to break the law without any consequences.”
So what about the company’s much-repeated determination to help Middle-Eastern and other repressive regimes bypass censorship rules? It claims, for example, that its service played a key role during the Egyptian revolution – which wasn’t regarded as particularly legal by the Egyptian government.
“We follow UK law, there isn’t a law that prohibits the use of Egyptians gaining access to blocked websites such as Twitter, even if there is one in Egypt,” it helpfully explains.
“If a request for information is sent to us from overseas, we will not accept this request unless it is sent through the appropriate UK channels and a UK judge warrants a court order or a court summons that forces us to provide this information.
“We are not intimidated by the US government as some are claiming, we are simply complying with our countries (sic) legal system to avoid being potentially shut down and prosecuted ourselves.”