Cops attack Swedish VPN provider only to find there’s no “there” out there

of oh-no-things-are-not-even-there department

There are few things I enjoy writing about more than cops who think waving a piece of paper will ensure they get what they want. I have already dealt with a few of these stories, most of them Signal-centricthe little messaging service that could — the one that doesn’t collect user data and prefers get out of the market than to submit to cipher break government mandates.

So it always makes me happy to hear that cops armed with court orders approached a privacy-focused tech company only to find that the things they wanted didn’t actually exist where they searched. . Due diligence is one thing, investigators. Your boilerplate is obviously wrong if you asserted (based on “training and expertise“) that the place you want to search contains the information you want to get.

This is the case here. A Swedish VPN provider was raided by local law enforcement, but couldn’t provide any of the information the officers were looking for… which the officers could have achieved before the search had they bothered to read the terms of use. Here is Michael Kan with PC World details:

The company today reported that Swedish police had issued a search warrant two days earlier to investigate the office of Mullvad VPN in Gothenburg, Sweden. “They intended to seize computers containing customer data,” Mullvad said.

However, the Swedish police left empty-handed. It appears Mullvad’s own lawyers have stepped in and pointed out that the company maintains a strict no-logs policy for customer data. This means that the VPN service will refrain from collecting subscriber data. IP adress, web traffic and connection timestamps, in an effort to protect user privacy. (This is also why Mullvad VPN is among our most highly rated VPN services.)

Had the cops searched Mullvad’s website before conducting a physical search of its offices, they might have discovered that what they swore they would find there was in fact not on Mullvad’s premises. Mullvad. It’s not like it’s that hard to find:

There is a law to collect user data in India and other countries. Does it affect Mullvad?

Mullvad does not collect user data. Mullvad is based in Sweden and none of the Swedish regulations ( can compel VPN providers to secretly collect traffic data. We also have no servers, infrastructure or staff in India.

In other words, bring all the law you want, but in the end:

Raid if you want. But you can’t have what providers like Mullvad don’t want to collect. In the end, you did nothing more than make noise and embarrass yourself. It’s all there in the Mullvad FAQ, including the fact that Mullvad does not log user activity. If your investigation leads you to vendors like Mullvad, that’s a dead end. Look elsewhere.

This policy is not in place as Mullvad wants to protect criminals. It is in place because people everywhere deserve protection from government excesses. The fact that criminals can benefit from policies like these doesn’t make these policies bad, it just makes it harder for abusive governments to engage in third-party enabled surveillance.

And the long history here shows that Mullvad is no hotbed for criminals. It’s just an extremely well-managed VPN provider:

“Mullvad has operated our VPN service for over 14 years. This is the first time our offices have been visited with a search warrant,” the company added.

You know who’s in the best position to keep local law enforcement from embarrassing themselves? ENFORCEMENT OF LOCAL LAW. Perhaps read the terms of use and FAQs on the site you’re considering raiding before approaching a court with a bunch of assumptions and half-truths to get an unsuccessful warrant demanding companies turn over information that you don’t know about. ‘they don’t keep. To do otherwise is to look bad for your job (at best) and bossy (at worst). If the cops want to regain the respect and trust they swear they have always enjoyed in the past, the first thing they can do is take care of the investigative part of investigations. That way they won’t look ridiculous when they walk out of a tech company’s office with shit in their hands.

Filed under: newspapers, private life, Sweden, vpn, to guarantee

Companies: mole

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