Mullvad VPN & IVPN removed from privacytools.io

I have been relying on privacytools.io as one of my main resources when looking for a privacy-focused service.

I recently looked at the VPN Provider section and Mullvad VPN & IVPN had both been removed - there was also nothing in the change log. They were replaced by the following;

All the above are affiliates of privacytools.io. What is concerning is on the project funding page it states;

‘I will make this very clear: No tool or service will be added here just because an affiliate program is offered. Only existing entries are affected, clearly marked and are designed for commercial services that gained an entry already on PrivacyTools.io independently from the existance of an affiliate program. This method will ensure that the quality of recommendations on PrivacyTools.io wont be affected. Examples can be found here.’

As far as I know, Surfshark VPN, ExpressVPN and hide.me were never listed on privacytools.io before and were added with an affiliation from the start, which is in direct conflict with the statement above.

So, does anyone know why this has happened?

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I don’t know the whole story, but apparently, the original devs of privacy tools left and went to privacyguides.org. The privacytoolsIO subreddit no longer allows posting either, and the moderators instead made a new r/PrivacyGuides subreddit.

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Maybe just watch the situation over time to see if they say something? Or have you tried contacting them?

I’ll be honest, that seems sketchy to me because those are not options I hear in anyone’s top 5 list, but I’m also a complete outsider.

Its been very hard lately to identify that if the recommendations from the privacy related websites and influencers are sponsored or not.
Many even fail to disclose that they are infact being sponsored or being benefited from an affiliate link.

Taking sponsors or giving out affiliate links is not a bad decision , but bowing down to every condition of sponsors to make them look the greatest of all is certainly not good for users interest.
Sometimes sponsorship may lead to a behaviour where creators might ignore other services which would be a better recommendation , had they not been sponsored by any service.
Many foss projects which provide better privacy aren’t spoken of by the privacy pundits as they don’t sell an affiliate program.
Inshort i am not a big fan of recommendations based on sponsored partnerships

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As far as I know, Surfshark VPN, ExpressVPN and hide.me were never listed on privacytools.io before and were added with an affiliation from the start, which is in direct conflict with the statement above.

In fairness, both Hide.me and ExpressVPN used to be listed - they were removed when we expanded our criteria.

So, does anyone know why this has happened?

All active team members, aside from the founder (who now runs the site), moved to Privacy Guides. This has been covered in great detail elsewhere, even on this forum - but I’m happy to answer any questions if need be.

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I have tried contacting him but have not got a response yet.

I did not know that they were listed at one point in time, which I guess is slightly better.

My main question was kind of, can privacytools.io still be trusted and, are Mullvad VPN & IVPN still good choices?

I have put a lot of trust into privacytools.io but I still research each individual tool before I use it. I almost use privacytools.io as a privacy ‘search engine’ to discover services.

As I said here,

So I still do not know his reasons behind removing Mullvad & IVPN and adding Surfshark, Express VPN & hide.me.

The main reason I still trusted privacytools.io was because any affiliates had to be on privacytools.io prior to the affiliation and they did mark all sponsorships (which are exempt from the criteria) and affiliates clearly.

But that has changed since Surfshark was added, for example, as it was never listed before and had an affiliation as soon as it came on privacytools.io

Seems like that classic “exit scam”.

Build a privacy web, gain credibility, sell the credibility to the highest bidder.

Yeah, it kinda seems like that.

Whether PrivacyTools.io can be trusted is up to you… Personally, I’m not a fan of sites that use affiliate links even if something doesn’t meet their criteria.

As for IVPN and Mullvad, we still list them - and they are still great VPNs (if used correctly).

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Okay, thank you so much for your help.

In addition to our channel videos, we have also posted resources on https://techlore.tech/resources (including VPN recommendations and other more trustworthy guides online) which you may find of interest.

Edit: I’ll point out PrivacyTools has their own forum, maybe it’s worth asking there?

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Yeah, I think I might ask in the forum.

I will also look at the Techlore Resources page as well.

Thanks.

Final nail in the coffin of privacytools.io credibility…

I will probably still use it for some resources but, I will be more cautious and definitely look elsewhere to check.

They’ve destroyed all credibility at this point. It’s one thing to add sponsor links but to quietly add them and remove basically the most reputable options in the industry without even a bad explanation :joy: they’re basically a noob trap at this point.

There is a thread on their forum about this issue:

Let’s wait for the Admin’s reply there. It looks indeed like an extremely awful and unwise behavior :face_with_spiral_eyes: :confounded:.

Thank you for finding this, it is very helpful.

Found one more thing about this “issue”…
Read here:
Completely remove PrivacyTools.io from guide by pterocles · Pull Request #248 · Anon-Planet/thgtoa · GitHub.

I’ve checked the info in the link above. Now it looks even worse. On mobile version of the website they purposely hide the “affiliated” icon on the shady vpn’s they offer. Either their website got hacked or… or the Admin is a total moron. Thus the project is dead :hot_face:.

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