This week Australia officially enacted its controversial new data retention law where mass swathes of metadata are required to be stored by telecoms for up to two years.
Australian authorities said the measures were necessary for law enforcement but the move has outraged civil liberties groups as authorities will have greater ease of access to this metadata than even before.
VPNs have been popular in Australia before as a means to access geo-blocked content but in the past there have been threats to block the technology, though no politician has ever acted on it.
Now with the new data retention law, VPNs are in the spotlight as a possible means to mask your activity if you are in Australia and keep your data safe. This is true but only to an extent.
A recent report from Mashable Australia shined a light on VPN use in the country. “We are free to use VPNs to mask our metadata if we wish,” one lawyer said.
However, concerned Australian Internet users shouldn’t think of VPNs as a perfect remedy and should consider the safety of using a VPN that has a good reputation, unlike many free VPN services such as Hola, which was revealed to be selling user bandwidth earlier this year.
Being aware of the kind of data that a VPN logs is crucial too if you are ensure that your privacy is maintained if you are trying to avoid data retention.
Also, consider that the metadata you generate while connected to a VPN may still be stored by authorities in Australia if it went through an Australian ISP but it will not be tied to you actual IP address.