NordVPN Responds to Privacy Sensitive Allegations

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Over the past several weeks there have been repeated efforts to place NordVPN is a bad light. The company is being linked to Tesonet, one of Lithuania's largest tech companies, which runs data mining and residential proxy services. NordVPN says that these activities have nothing to do with their company and have retained a large auditing firm to back this up.

The VPN industry is highly competitive. Combined with a userbase which tends to be more suspicious than the average Internet user, this is a volatile mix.

In recent weeks there have been a series of allegations lodged against NordVPN. The company is being linked to Lithuanian tech company Tesonet, which offers a wide range of services and products. According to the allegations, Tesonet owns NordVPN, a claim the latter denies.

This turns out to be problematic for some, as Tesonet is involved in data mining practices, and the company also runs a residential proxy network. While there is no evidence that NordVPN is involved in any of that, it’s enough to feed conspiracies.

The situation didn’t improve when Tesonet was sued by Luminati, the company behind the “not so private” VPN service Hola. The complaint accuses Tesonet of infringing Luminati’s proxy patents and NordVPN is listed is the suit as well, with the claim that it had a business relationship with Hola.

TorrentFreak previously asked NordVPN about the allegations and the company said that they are operated by the Panamese company Tefincom, which also has the NordVPN trademark. Tesonet is closely related to the company, but it doesn’t legally own and never owned NordVPN.

NordVPN initially opted not to comment publicly but that changed when a new storm of mostly ‘fake’ Twitter accounts (many of which were created years ago but have only tweeted on this particular issue) made themselves heard over the past days.

“We realized that remaining silent is no longer an option and we must respond for the sake of our reputation,” NordVPN wrote in a recent blog post.

NordVPN responds to several claims including that they are operating the same way as Hola, by selling users’ bandwidth. This is something anyone can verify independently, they say, by monitoring their traffic via a network monitoring application.

“Anyone with Wireshark (or any other similar app) and some networking knowledge can perform a network scan, check all requests made by the NordVPN application, and verify their destinations. The results will prove that the web scraping accusations are false,” the company writes.

The patent infringement lawsuit, which these allegations can be traced back to, doesn’t mention NordVPN as one of the proxying apps. However, it does claim that HolaVPN and NordVPN had a business relationship. This is “misleading,” the VPN states in its response.

“HolaVPN was one of many minor affiliate partners and would refer users who canceled Hola to NordVPN. We would pay a small commission for the referral,” NordVPN writes.

While NordVPN admits that Tesonet is a partner, it stresses that they were never in any way been related to other projects developed by Tesonet.

The company describes the allegations as an organized smear campaign and points out that this was in large part driven by competitors. To back up its position and address any doubt, they are also taking concrete action.

“We understand that these facts alone may not be enough to clear our name,” NordVPN writes.

“Therefore, we are hiring one of the largest professional service firms in the world to run an independent audit and verify our ‘no logs’ claim. The audit is expected to be completed within 2 months and will independently verify that the accusations are false.”

NordVPN’s full response is available on the company’s blog. A copy of the aforementioned patent infringement complaint can be found here (pdf).

TF note: We do not make a habit of reporting on these type of issues but felt that since NordVPN is one of our sponsors, we should address it. This article was written independently, as per standard TF policy. We trust that people can make up their own minds.


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