Open Source Code – The Future of User Privacy

Posted on Apr 1, 2020 by Tim Mocan
is an open source vpn client better for privacy

Will we see more and more open source software in the future, or is this a passing trend that will die off eventually?

According to survey data, open source is definitely here to stay. Right now, around 78% of companies actually run open source software, and that trend will likely continue to grow. Open source code benefits businesses a lot, after all, since they get to enjoy better security, scalability, and much easier deployment – as ProPrivacy discusses in their guide: Why is open source important?

But what does that mean for you, the end user? Will you enjoy better privacy? Short answer – yes. But if you’re looking for more detail, keep reading.

What Does Open Source Software Actually Mean?

Here’s why open source code is the only way to enjoy true privacy, and why you should use an open source VPN client if you want to secure your online data.

Open source code is something that’s “open” to the public. Basically, anyone can inspect, copy, learn from, and sometimes even edit it without fear of legal repercussions. To truly be open source, the software must also have an open source license that meets all the standards of the Open Source Definition.

Nowadays, most developers publish their open source code on GitHub.

Comparatively, closed source code only belongs to the company, team, or person who created it. Nobody else can use or inspect it, unless they want to meet the long arm of the law.

Is Open Source Code Inherently Better for Privacy?

Yes. There are no ifs or buts here.

If you are extremely focused on privacy, open source is the only way to go – especially when using a VPN.

  • You can fully check the code on your own to make sure everything is good. If you’re not tech-savvy, no problem since open source code means that other qualified security experts will have a much easier time performing audits.
  • Open source VPN clients mean there is no risk that there are vulnerabilities or hidden backdoors in the code.
  • Also, it’s much easier to trust an open source VPN client. You never have to worry about whether the VPN client is doing shady things behind your back (like logging your traffic).

We’re not saying a closed source VPN client can’t be trusted at all. But if you’re the kind of person who needs to have full control over their Internet privacy, open source options are simply better for your sanity.

Are There Any Open Source VPNs?

Well, OpenVPN, SoftEther, and WireGuard® for starters. OpenVPN is the most popular, but SoftEther and WireGuard® are much more lightweight (meaning you get good security and smooth speeds).

But using either of those options isn’t as simple as just installing a client on your device. You need a bit of technical know-how to set everything up. Maybe WireGuard® might go smoother since it’s more user-friendly. But you’ll still have to buy and set up your own server which can cost you anywhere between $15 and $100 per month.

Besides those options, you might see some articles recommending a few other open source solutions. But they’re not too popular or user-friendly, and most of them only run on Linux.

Luckily, at PIA we have also started embracing open source – announcing a shift towards open source back in 2018, and recently offering our Android code open for inspection – meaning all PIA VPN clients are now open source VPN clients.

What’s more, we have even started reaching out to external auditors. And, also recently launched a closed Beta for the WireGuard® protocol.

So at PIA we’re definitely committed to full transparency and user privacy. If you’d like to learn more about the pros of using PIA, check out this in-depth review (don’t worry, you can easily scan through it).

The Bottom Line

The future is open source. The stats prove it, and it’s really the only way to go when it comes to guaranteeing user privacy and helping people trust brands (especially VPNs).

Why else do you think people should use an open source VPN client? Or do you believe closed source options are better for privacy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

“WireGuard®” is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld.