With the Snoopers Charter coming soon in the UK, I intend to start using a VPN service. Disregarding issues of the VPN logging user details or leaving my IP address discoverable, what other potential personal information leaks should I be aware of?

For instance, websites take a machine ID, package and sell it on. What would using a VPN do to protect against, say Google matching my machine ID when not using the VPN (they have this ID now) with my VPN-enabled sessions? Or would it be the machine ID of the VPN server that is collected?

If I don't use the VPN before and during all online activity, can I be matched and identified using browser persistent storage? Would I have to track down and eliminate all persistent storage and cookies before the first time I use the VPN?

Is P2P secured? Is Usenet secured?

Should I quit the VPN before signing in to webmail or any other subscribed website?

I assume I will have to kill my Windows logon and switch to a local-only account.

Currently my ISP uses IPV4 and dynamic IP allocation. I won't use TOR - it is way too slow.

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    Have you looked at Tor? It is a pretty good prepackaged anonymity focused browser. – Neil Smithline Nov 14 '15 at 17:24
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    What "machine ID" are you talking about? There are several ways to fingerpring users which are more or less reliable, but none of them is commonly referred to as "machine ID". – Philipp Nov 15 '15 at 13:47

we currently don't know how the snoopers charter will affect VPNs.

section 50 of the snoopers charter states:

‘It is the duty of a telecommunications operator who is obtaining or disclosing communications data, in response to a request or requirement for the data in pursuance of an authorisation, to obtain or disclose the data in a way that minimises the amount of data that needs to be processed for the purpose concerned’

VPNs can technically be considered as a telecommunications operator thanks to some of the wording used in other parts of the bill, but most VPNs in the UK have been ignoring the government when it comes to things like Piracy and web site blocking.

The answer is there is no way of telling at this moment in time, the snoopers charter may change as it makes its way through the houses and won't come into law an till 2016.

You are better off using TOR at the moment, its getting faster and more nodes are appearing.


If you don't have anything to hide and just want to keep your privacy from the UK government recording your entire history, any non UK-based VPN provider will do (or a computer/dedicated server with a VPN server running at a foreign ISP/hosting provider). It shouldn't be a problem that the VPN provider/ISP knows your identity as long as you trust the government of the country it's based in, and as much as I like anonymity and privacy, even I feel it's a reasonable requirement for an ISP to have their customer's identity.

Of course, websites will still be able to track you just like they did before (using a VPN is just like switching ISPs, you just appear as under another IP address), but if you want to fight this sort of tracking, a VPN isn't the right solution.

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