Virtual Private Network (VPN) service IPREDator has opened its doors to beta testers this week.
Operated by the developers of popular file sharing site The Pirate Bay, the service allows subscribers to access the Internet anonymously.
Web surfers typically connect to the Internet via an Internet Service Provider (ISP), which assigns each user a unique, identifying IP address.
The IP address is appended onto any network traffic to and from a user's computer. Online transactions including banking, e-mail and search engine queries may thus be traceable.
With the principle that "the network is under our control, not theirs", IPREDator grants online anonymity by substituting a user's IP address with a new address.
Once connected to IPREDator via a 128-bit encrypted VPN tunnel, users' network traffic is routed through the new address, so no further information is relayed to the ISP.
Besides providing anonymity, the new address also allows users to bypass ISP-defined limitations, which could include Senator Conroy's proposed ISP-level Internet filter.
Other services such as Torrent Freedom, Perfect Privacy and Witopia also offer personal VPNs for users who require privacy, want to access overseas content, or who need access to information within censored areas such as China's "Great Firewall".
However because IPREDator is incorporated in Sweden, it expects to provide greater security than its competitors. Swedish law does not require the company to surrender its users' information unless conviction is expected to result in at least two years imprisonment.
Furthermore, IPREDator claims to store no information about its subscribers' Internet activity, so it can only surrender information that users provide during subscription.
In an e-mail to pre-registered beta testers, the company claimed:
"IPREDator does not store any personal details about its clients.
"IPREDator does not store any traffic habits you might have. IPREDator is the key to a free internet in the renaissance of censorship!"
The service currently is only offered to IPREDator's 180,000 registered beta testers and costs 149 Swedish kronors (AUD$24) for a three-month subscription.
It is expected to accept new customers only when beta testing is completed but has not released information about when this is likely to happen.
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