Sydney‘s venerable newspaper The Daily Telegraph has always been on the cutting edge of technology and stridently in favour of civil liberties, so it’s absolutely no surprise that their take on the use of VPNs is nuanced and thoughtful.

Just kidding.
The Tele has run today a sterling hit job from political editor Sharri Markson, who is having a fainting spell over the fact that the National Broadband Service website features information on what a virtual private network (VPN) is, and how one might go about using one.

The piece opens by insinuating that VPNs are primarily used by pirates to “illegally download hit movies and TV shows from around the globe.”
Don’t worry, though! The Tele knows that there are other uses for VPNs aside from pirating content, of course. Markson makes clear that they can also be used by “terrorists, paedophiles and other criminals to evade the reach of intelligence agencies.”

Here’s what the NBN site says about VPNs:
A VPN is a private server run by a third-party provider. When you connect to a VPN, you select from the list of servers provided by that company, which can be based anywhere in the world. Once connected, it sets up an encrypted connection between your computer and the private server. It’s only from there, remote of your PC, that the data is forwarded onto its destination.

As such, any undesirable eyes cannot see what is going to or from your computer, they can only see the VPN’s server – the window into your device is locked shut. Further to that, the information you are sending is made to look like it’s coming from a destination other than your own, either somewhere else in your city or, possibly, anywhere in the world.

A VPN is therefore much like a personal security guard. When someone comes knocking, the VPN can provide misinformation about who you are and where you are, and then doesn’t let them past to see what’s inside. To a hacker, that’s a big stop sign.

This is fairly uncontroversial. It also delves into when people might want to use a VPN – again, in the most uncontroversial way imaginable:
Some argue that a VPN should always be active to ensure maximum protection. For many experiences, though, there is not necessarily a need to potentially hamstring your internet speed to block out your activities.

For example, if you are streaming Netflix – a service that has a high demand on internet bandwidth – is there much for unwanted eyes to see? Netflix takes responsibility for securing your payment and personal information, so the worst that might happen is that those potentially prying eyes can see you are watching Stranger Things.
When entering personal information, sending sensitive files or doing any number of personal tasks you might want to keep private – this is when many users might activate a VPN.

This is all just fact. There are myriad legitimate uses for a VPN beyond pirating Game of Thrones, accessing illegal pornography and joining ISIS, which may come as a shock to the Daily Telegraph. It may also come as a shock that literally millions of businesses use VPNs as an absolutely integral part of their digital security processes! What the!

Look, we understand that the Daily Tele has an insatiable lust for a massively empowered security state. That’s fine. Nobody can change that. But they can at least pretend to project the image of basic digital literacy.
Source: Daily Telegraph.