Some years ago, I called one of the local internet service providers
(ISP), enquiring about their VPN packages. While the guy whom I talked
to finally furnished me with the information that I was after, his
question made me to think.
“You said you want a VPN, what do you want it for?”
It appeared this was an unnecessary question, considering that as his
company was in the business of offering various connectivity services,
VPN being one of them, it was not his business to find out how I was
going to use it.
This logic is the same as asking each person who
applies for broadband connection as to what the purpose of their
application is: isn’t it apparent that the person just wants to
connect to the internet? I just wondered.
In the same way, any person who hunts for a VPN service will be doing
so because they just wish to connect to the internet in a securely
encrypted manner. As to why this should bother anyone, especially one
in the ISP business is anybody’s guess.
But why do people use VPN in the first place?
While this question may sound silly, I think it may help to address
it. To some extent, it may help one understand why VPN is important in
the first place.
Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short,
extends a private network across a public
network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public
networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private
This has the answer: people use the VPN because they want the security
that a private network offers while connected to a public network.
By “public”, this includes but not limited to, connections at
public wifi hotspots, at the office and even any connection at
home. Such a connection is encrypted and cannot be snooped easily.
Thus, under normal circumstances, your network provider may be able to
detect the sites you connect to (although not what you are exchanging
with those sites when you are using an HTTPS connection) — with a
VPN, they can only see your connection to your VPN provider. As to
other subsequent connections you make, they may never know.
This is a bother to some because they lack control over your
communication. This is even more problematic to certain governments as
they may not be able to track their citizens using online platforms.
Remember: control means power, and giving it up means the authority
may feel vulnerable.
VPN is all about Privacy
At the end of the day, a person uses VPN connection to ensure
privacy. We all remember the dark days, in January 2019, when the
government tried to ban the use of
WhatsApp during public
demonstrations. The idea was to limit or trying to control
communication amongst the people.
However, in the end, the ban was rendered useless through the use of
VPN, and the alternative Telegram
Almost everyone learnt about VPN:
- How to set it up;
- Its other potential uses other than opening up Whatsapp; and
- The freedom it gives to its user, especially when it opens up access
to “forbidden or restricted” sites.
Although some criminals take advantage of privacy to advance their
criminal enterprises, that cannot be used as an excuse to deny others
of this service.
Privacy is the foundation of a person’s dignity. Whatever a person
does in private does not necessarily aim to injure the public
Just as companies guard their trade secrets to remain competitive, so
do individuals need privacy to uphold their esteem.
Dealing with Crime and Terrorism
VPN is not the sole domain of criminals. In fact, cybercrime is just
any crime carried out through the use of the cyberspace. This
- International money laundering;
- Child pornography;
- Organising terrorist activities.
People who do this may do so with, or without a VPN. They only require
a computer, a secure communication channel such as an email and that’s
VPN grants its user the maximum privacy they may require. However, the
ethics of using such a service have nothing to do with the person
In any event, it is not enough to just use a VPN without securing the
machine you are using: Keyloggers, shoulder snooping and the
destination of your communication have all to do with how secure you
In future posts, we will discuss securing our communication
platforms. Otherwise, technology has nothing to do with the morality
of its users. It is only there to be used to advance any cause, be it
good or evil.