Encrypted email provider ProtonMail’s free VPN service, ProtonVPN, is now available to the general public, the company announced on Tuesday. ProtonVPN has been in beta testing and development for a year, and is now available for free.

The internet has shifted from its previous position as a “beacon of hope and freedom” to become a “tool for oppression and control,” according to a ProtonVPN press release. Tech titans like Google and Facebook “abuse user privacy to sell advertisements,” the release noted, and ProtonVPN is offering a way to protect user data.

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ProtonVPN provides a free virtual private network that prevents websites from tracking user behavior, and improves the security of the browsing experience by routing internet traffic though an encrypted tunnel. Certain VPNs can also allow internet users to bypass state-sponsored censorship programs and to access specific content that may have been blacklisted.

In addition to the service being free, ProtonMail makes the claim that ProtonVPN is the “best VPN service ever created,” being that it uses multiple encrypted tunnels to route traffic, and does so through multiple countries as well. ProtonVPN also seamlessly integrates with the Tor anonymity network, the release said.

Much like its flagship product, ProtonMail will operate ProtonVPN with a transparent threat model, and it will be subject to the company’s Swiss jurisdiction.

Conversations around the use of VPNs have been growing since US President Donald Trump blocked Obama-era FCC regulations from going into effect in December 2017. Without the additional regulations in place, it could eventually be easier for ISPs to capture and use consumer data for advertising, some have argued.

Additionally, conversations around a reversal of net neutrality rules have led some to explore more secure options for accessing the web. As such, many users have begun looking to VPNs to more effectively hide their behavior online.

ProtonVPN is free, but the company relies on donations to provide the service. Interested users can sign up for ProtonVPN here.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. ProtonVPN is a free VPN from ProtonMail, and it available to the public now.
  2. VPNs are used to route traffic through encrypted tunnels, making it more difficult for governments or businesses to track what someone is doing online.
  3. ProtonVPN integrates with the Tor anonymity network, and utilizes multiple tunnels to encrypt internet traffic.