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The new UK law means that Internet service providers have to keep emails, web history, and your searches for one year.

I am not very comfortable with this. I have nothing really to hide, except for normal personal details, but with all the data breaches recently I would like to protect my identity from being used or stolen.

If I use a VPN, like OpenVPN, and have my exit point as Switzerland, will this stop my ISP from logging my activities like banking? I don't use my ISP's mail. I use a Swiss mail server.

If this doesn't do the job and needs to be tweaked, could someone please let me know what I should be doing?

  • We are assuming you are in the UK? – schroeder Nov 27 '16 at 15:42
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    Switzerland also has laws that mandate ISPs to keep logs of their users for six months. The laws concerning this were just recently rewritten to give law enforcement agencies more powers (including very broad traffic collection powers for Switzerland's signal intelligence agency). I'm not sure whether a VPN located in Switzerland would be bound by the same laws to collect traffic data. Just FYI. Obviously since your mail server sits in Switzerland, choosing another VPN exit point wouldn't really improve things. – Pascal Nov 27 '16 at 16:16
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If I use a VPN, like OpenVPN, and have my exit point as Switzerland, will this stop my ISP from logging my activities like banking?

The answer to your question is a qualified yes.

Here are a few gotchas:

  1. You must make sure that the VPN is actually a VPN and not just a HTTP proxy. E.g you must make sure that a) your connection to the VPN provider is encrypted and b) all the requests your computer makes are tunneled to your VPN provider. If you just use an HTTP proxy, for example, all your DNS requests will most likely still be visible to your ISP, so while the ISP wouldn't know what exactly you send and receive, they'd know with whom you communicate.

  2. You must trust the VPN provider. Your VPN provider is pretty much in a position to serve as a man in the middle for all the unencrypted connections you make to the internet (e.g. HTTP websurfing, and possibly checking and sending your E-Mail if you use IMAP and SMTP without TLS). Even with encrypted connections, your VPN provider can compile a complete list of all the internet servers you communicate with, when you do so, and how much data you exchange. In fact, the VPN provider can do everything the ISP could if you didn't have the VPN installed. So you're just moving your trust from your ISP to a third party.

  3. Protecting your identity from being used or stolen has very little to do with using a VPN. VPNs only make the content of your internet communications illegible to anyone sitting between you and the VPN provider. They don't do anything to secure either your computer or the services you communicate with. Data breaches usually don't happen at your ISP but at the services you use, and VPNs don't add any additional privacy for you from the viewpoint of things like mail services that know you anyway (because you have an account with them). Once you sign in, it doesn't matter whether they know your real IP address or not - they know it's you. And thieves/hackers who breach a service usually aren't interested in stealing IP addresses of clients (the only thing a VPN can hide from your communication endpoints)

If you see point 2 as a problem, I'd suggest looking into other privacy tools such as Tor.

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    A good point to start looking VPN providers: privacytools.io/#vpn – Aventinus Nov 27 '16 at 16:49
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    Thank you for your help I didn't know the Swiss law regarding isp data collections had been broadened. I do use a encrypted DNS server my problem is to be honest with the isp collecting so much data now and the recent breaches at talk talk my isp the less they have the better but that goes for them all I wish to choose what let people collect again thanks everyone – John Taylor Nov 27 '16 at 19:36
  • Make your own VPN server somewhere like in Somalia or any unassimilated by oppressors countries and you're fine. – Overmind Nov 28 '16 at 7:27

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