Is PIA really private?

When surfing online using the South Korean location I came to this:
It’s a South Korean government warning. The website I searched was perfectly common and legal, but this has me worried as how this could have been supposingly placed here by the Korean government when using PIA.

An explanation would be great!
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  • Posts: 453
    South Korea is heavily censored. According to the Wiki page...

     South Korea

    • Rated "partly free" in Freedom on the Net by Freedom House in 2011 (score 32), 2012 (score 34), 2013 (score 32), 2014 (score 33), and 2015 (score 34).[158][159][160][161][162]
    • Listed as pervasive in the conflict/security area, as selective in social, and as no evidence in political and Internet tools by ONI in 2011.[1][11]
    • Listed as Under Surveillance by RWB in 2011.[3]

    South Korea is a world leader in Internet and broadband penetration, but its citizens do not have access to a free and unfiltered Internet. South Korea’s government maintains a wide-ranging approach toward the regulation of specific online content and imposes a substantial level of censorship on elections-related discourse and on a large number of Web sites that the government deems subversive or socially harmful.[163] The policies are particularly strong toward suppressing anonymity in the Korean internet.

    In 2007, numerous bloggers were censored and their posts deleted by police for expressing criticism of, or even support for, presidential candidates. This even led to some bloggers being arrested by the police.[164]

    South Korea uses IP address blocking to ban web sites considered sympathetic to North Korea.[68][165] Illegal websites, such as those offering unrated games, file sharing, pornography, and gambling, are also blocked. Any attempts to bypass this is enforced with the "three-strikes" program.


    So not knowing exactly you were trying to do, you may have tried to access a website that is not allowed. It might have nothing to do with you per se, just where you were trying to go.


  • edited November 8 Posts: 13
    So with the government being able to censor its internet, doesn’t this allow them to spy on the traffic coming from the PIA servers?
    Post edited by Bojack on
  • edited November 8 Posts: 215
    Bojack said:
    When surfing online using the South Korean location I came to this:
    It’s a South Korean government warning. The website I searched was perfectly common and legal, but this has me worried as how this could have been supposingly placed here by the Korean government when using PIA.

    An explanation would be great!
    Private Internet Access mixes clients’ traffic with many other clients’ traffic through the use of an anonymous shared-IP system ensuring that users blend in with the crowd.
    They do not store any logs relating to traffic, session, DNS or metadata. There are no logs for any person or entity to match an IP address and a timestamp to a user of the service. In other words, they do not log, period.

    The companies no log policy and shared IP system is the best defense against Government and Corporate surveillance.
    Post edited by OpenVPN on
  • edited November 8 Posts: 79
    @Omnibus_IV @Bojack What you're experiencing is censorship, not privacy invasion. It's a domain-based block by the Korean goverment on any outgoing traffic from Korea to specific known websites they don't agree with. Ironically, most sites they try to block could be accessed by just adding www. before the domain. It's very low tech and often if you get a link to a specific page on a domain instead of trying to access the root domain directly, it will go through.

    I've petitioned the management to allow me to add a notice to each country (given that we all know what those countries are and their famous blacklists) when selecting it to give a warning to the user in-app as such:

    "You've selected Korea as your VPN node. Keep in mind that Korea blocks a lot of websites, and while they can't track you while you're using PIA, they can definitely try to stop you from connecting to a website the government has blacklisted. Sites they blacklist include known pornography sites, sites they believe could have pornography or anti-government discussions (perhaps Tumblr or Reddit), known gambling sites, and obvious North Korean propaganda sites. If you're having trouble accessing a site from our VPN in this country due to censorship blacklists, try a different country VPN in the list."

    Post edited by sn0wmonster on
  • Posts: 215
    Bojack said:
    So with the government being able to censor its internet, doesn’t this allow them to spy on the traffic coming from the PIA servers?
    Private Internet Access customers’ internet traffic is encrypted before leaving their devices using strong AES encryption (128 or 256 bit) and can not be decrypted by a sniffer or DPI equipment. Further, it is mixed among our users using a shared IP anonymiser before exiting towards the greater internet. An upstream attacker using a similar sniffer would only be able to see anonymised outgoing traffic. Since we do not log any traffic or session data, by design, and because we encrypt all of the internet traffic, no user privacy could be compromised even if subjected to a similar attack. Private Internet Access is designed in such a way that even if incoming and outgoing traffic is being monitored, individual users’ privacy will still be maintained. ~ information located in the Knowledgebase.



    "You've selected Korea as your VPN node. Keep in mind that Korea blocks a lot of websites, and while they can't track you while you're using PIA, they can definitely try to stop you from connecting to a website the government has blacklisted. Sites they blacklist include known pornography sites, sites they believe could have pornography or anti-government discussions (perhaps Tumblr or Reddit), known gambling sites, and obvious North Korean propaganda sites. If you're having trouble accessing a site from our VPN in this country due to censorship blacklists, try a different country VPN in the list."

    Will this notice appear upon connecting to the South Korean server? 
  • @OpenVPN Nothing set in stone yet, but the general consensus is that if it is agreed on (should be) it will be shown only on the first time someone connects to avoid a noisy interface, but that indeed, the notice is useful and should be implemented.

    For the record, I mentioned this potential confusion a week ago so it's not a surprise that it's causing the exact confusion I warned of. Since we're dealing with a support ticket system, knowledgebase, forum, website, blog, subreddits, and the app itself, things can't really move without uniform agreement, and that takes a bit of time if nothing else.
  • Posts: 215
    @OpenVPN Nothing set in stone yet, but the general consensus is that if it is agreed on (should be) it will be shown only on the first time someone connects to avoid a noisy interface, but that indeed, the notice is useful and should be implemented.

    For the record, I mentioned this potential confusion a week ago so it's not a surprise that it's causing the exact confusion I warned of. Since we're dealing with a support ticket system, knowledgebase, forum, website, blog, subreddits, and the app itself, things can't really move without uniform agreement, and that takes a bit of time if nothing else.
    Thank you for the information! I would also like to suggest that in the future the desktop applications be updated to display a warning if a user attempts to "Exit" the application 

    Example: "Please confirm~ if you close the PIA Application your Internet traffic will no longer be protected by our network."
  • @OpenVPN I'm shocked that that's not the norm already. Consider it added to "the list".
  • Posts: 215
    @OpenVPN I'm shocked that that's not the norm already. Consider it added to "the list".
    Thank you! I hope that it's added in a future release hopefully very soon.
  • edited November 8 Posts: 79
    @Bojack @OpenVPN @Omnibus_IV I've updated the original announcement thread here with this notice. I doubt anyone will see it directly but it's worth having to link to later.

    https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/forum/discussion/23503/private-internet-access-adds-south-korea-servers

    Post edited by sn0wmonster on
  • edited November 9 Posts: 453
    Here is where I got the info on SoKo. Also understand that this link discusses surveillance by county. That word alone might scare many a person. But as @OpenVPN stated, the encryption plus the anonymiser should be more than enough.

    As for censorship, I only experienced in in Afghanistan. The censorship was by the US Government, not the Afghan Government. That censorship was because of being on a military base and using authorized networks.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_and_surveillance_by_country

    added - I had my wife look at the image. She said it is nothing more than a statement saying you tried to login into an illegal web site. Nothing about being tracked or ID'd.


    Post edited by Omnibus_IV on
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