The year 2014 will be a crucial year for the online privacy debate. Edward Snowden is still living in exile in Russia but he’s not giving up the battle for personal privacy on the world wide web. As government agencies and central authorities continue to spy on citizens around the world, there’s no better time to look into protecting yourself and your browsing data.

One of the best ways to reclaim your privacy online is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. Below you’ll find five reasons why 2014 is the year you will want to start using a VPN.

1. Protect Yourself on Public Wifi With A VPN

One of the major reasons to use a Virtual Private Network is to protect yourself when accessing the internet over unsafe public wifi. Just because you’re paying a daily rate to use hotel wifi does not make it safe and secure for accessing private information.

You need to be aware of the fact that public wifi is not encrypted and offers users no security. Anyone who is tech savvy enough can easily see your Internet activity. You don’t even need to be a good hacker to know how to intercept unencrypted wifi signals.

The point here is that public wifi is a joke. It should not be trusted, and you need to know this before doing anything over these types of networks. Spend a few dollars a month and subscribe to a VPN service, which will encrypt and protect your web traffic while you’re connected to the Internet over a public connection.

If you’re traveling a lot and constantly logging onto the Internet over public wifi in airports or cafes, then a VPN is definitely a good investment for you.

2. Stream Entertainment Anywhere in the World

The number-one way to watch movies and TV shows is to stream them from websites like Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and a large number of other sites. Unfortunately, due to copyright agreements between these streaming companies and content holders, these service aren’t available to the majority of people living outside the US. Slowly, these services are expanding but if you find yourself living in or traveling to a country that doesn’t offer these streaming services, you can use a VPN to bypass this block.

The way this works is simple. A VPN allows you t o easily change your IP address, preventing anyone from knowing where you really are in the world. You could logon to a VPN while in Moscow and switch your IP address to New York, thus making all of your internet traffic think it’s coming from New York.

The VPN will allow you to unlock these services in a way that is very quick and easy to setup and use. Simply turn on the VPN connection when you’d like to stream content and turn it off when you’d like to resume searching the internet as you normally would.

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3. Gain Unrestricted Internet Access at Work and School

If you’re currently a student at a university or an employee at a large company, you may find yourself having to comply with an internet usage policy. You may be prevented from checking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and even from accessing your online email account.

A VPN connection can easily help you escape these types of restrictive networks and connect to websites that might otherwise be blocked or limited all together.

The VPN will make your internet traffic unreadable by the network administrator or the ISP. This prevents anyone from collecting information about your browsing activity. Now, I’m not encouraging you to start breaking the rules of your university or workplace. Use this knowledge and make the best judgment call possible. I’m simply telling you what is possible.

Another great way to use a VPN is to protect yourself while engaging in P2P file sharing activity. For obvious reasons, the Motion Picture Association of America and similar organizations are constantly trying to prevent file-sharers from infringing on their intellectual property.

Again, while I cannot encourage you to share pirated copies of major motion pictures, I will say that it’s possible to protect yourself while engaging in any type of file sharing, both legal and illegal, by using a VPN.

A VPN connection will most likely slow down your bandwidth slightly, but that’s a small price to pay to product your downloads and uploads from authorities looking at your traffic. I think it’s a no-brainer to pay for some added privacy and protection.

4. Bypass Censorship in Remote Countries Abroad

Similar to point number three above about bypassing corporate or university internet policies, a VPN could also be used to liberate yourself from overly controlling or oppressive internet censorship. Countries like Iran, Thailand, Russia, China, Cuba, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and many others prevent their citizens from freely accessing the world wide web. As we saw during the Arab spring uprising in Egypt, the internet can be used as an awesome political tool to disperse information and organize a revolution. This is why it’s so important to have unhindered access to the internet.

The good news is that a VPN connection can help you bypass internet censorship and enable you to get around restrictive internet policies. A VPN will completely hide your internet activity while allowing you to fake your location, allowing you to have complete internet Freedom.

5.  Protect Your Right To Privacy

This one is less obvious but it needs to be said. You have a right to Internet privacy; it’s as simple as that. No one can take this right away from you–not your university, your employer, the local law enforcement, or the country in which you reside. It’s time you reclaimed this right and stop allowing governments and law enforcement agencies to spy on you.

For $10 to $15 dollars a month, you can gain access to a great VPN service that will allow you to live a more private and secure life, both online and offline.

Finding A VPN

I could write a whole article on this topic alone as there are so many things to consider when choosing a personal VPN service. If you’ll be streaming movies and other video / audio content you’ll want to make sure you pick a VPN service that offers unlimited bandwidth couple with fast server speeds.

If you’re simply looking to protect yourself over a public wifi connection at a cafe or airport, you’ll want to pick a VPN that has servers close to you with reasonably fast speeds. You’ll also want a VPN service that doesn’t log your activity.

Simply do a google search for “Personal VPN Software,” and read some reviews before signing up for a service.

Conclusion

These are just five of the many reasons why you need a Virtual Private Network service. The internet is still in its infancy and we’re all bearing witness to the rapid development of this incredible, connected world.

As technology continues to advance, we’ll start to see privacy and security become major issues. In fact, these issues have already come to the forefront of the world-wide internet debate. The next few years will be critical in mapping out the future of the internet and the regulations surrounding it. While all of this is happening, it’s as good a time as any to protect yourself with a Virtual Private Network.

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