PrivacyToolsIO failing to their principles: dark patterns and the hidden contract with NordVPN.

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2022-08-14 05:30:07

The most reliable source for privacy tools since 2015. Software and services to counter surveillance with encryption for better internet privacy.

This is PrivacyToolsIO bio in Twitter. This used to be true, but that’s no more the case. PrivacyTools has losen every bit of credibility. I’m writing this article to bring focus on what’s happening with this website.

To begin with, the first thing I noticed when visiting today was that there was a new link in their header, on which it says “VPN”. Next to it there was another link, “Mail”. My first thought was that they were offering their own VPN and email community services, like they used to offer other free services in the past, maintained with donations money. That seemed to be great. I clicked on the “VPN” link and to my surprise, it was a link to NordVPN. I was kinda confused, because even if PrivacyToolsIO didn’t have the best privacy recommendations, I knew that they have standards and NordVPN was way below them. This was the first red flag.

Then, I clicked on email. It redirected me to Protonmail. I was surprised though, because they weren’t affiliated links. Or that’s what I saw using my extremely hardened Firefox. I spun up a VM, launched the Tor browser and visited their website again. These were the links I was redirected to:

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