Jan 042013
 January 4, 2013  Posted by  Business, Non-U.S.

So you’re concerned about your online privacy and are willing to pay for a service that purports to offer privacy and anonymity.   Maybe you’re feeling pretty smart because you found a service that says it maintains no logs and no subscriber list. And even better, you think, it offers a lifetime offer.

Sounds good? Well, wait…

As a long-time Cotse.net subscriber and fan, I was surprised to see the following recent notice on their login page:

We’d like to call Ultimate-Anonymity.com/Ultimate-Privacy.net on the carpet for paying us for one single user account then selling all of their own users subscriptions as well as lifetime access to that account under the guise of it being their service. Not only is that a violation of our policies, but we think that behavior is quite unethical.

U-A/U-P, if you want to resell our proxy (or other) services under your name, we offer fully managed servers that will allow you to do that. If you’d like to partner with us, we can arrange something, but what you have been doing (apparently for years now) is simply wrong. You have benefited at our expense (the load of hundreds of accounts for the price of one) and you have misled your users.

U-A/U-P users contacting us with access issues, we are not a partner with them nor part of their service. Their use of our services in the manner in which they have been using them was unauthorized. Their account has been disabled. We apologize for them for any inconvenience that this may cause you.

So if they were re-selling a single-user Cotse.net account without telling their customers, how could customers make an educated decision as to whether Cotse.net’s service is trustworthy and will protect their privacy? I think Cotse’s service is superb, but I made that decision after reading their policies on logging and how they respond to requests for information. Ultimate-anonymity.com/ultimate-privacy.net’s customers were not given that opportunity because the service was presented as their own and not a re-sold service.

I asked ultimate-anonymity.com/ultimate-privacy.net for their response to Cotse.net’s statement and received the following statement from Bill Collins of ultimate-anonymity.com:

This whole mess is rather embaraassing. Initially, we were approached by someone offering a dedecated (sic) proxy for $250 a month that would allow our users access. We were given trial access, tried it, and were pleased with the service and agreed to the $250 monthly access charge.

We list free proxies on our service and this is what 99% of our subscribers use. We also provide a web based cache proxy. Occassionally, a subscriber would complain that the web based cache proxy was not enough and those were the users we would allow to access the paid proxy.

We have addressed the person that we have been paying monthly regarding this issue and have not yet received a response. Additionally, we have reached out to Cotse to see if a partnership can be formed that will allow us to continue to offer the service to our users.

So who was really providing some of the proxy services to their subscribers? Should they have told their users that their paid proxy service was not their own? And if they were paying someone who was paying Cotse.net for a single-user account, are any statements made in their no-logs claim and privacy policy misleading or inaccurate?

The bottom line – apart from the misuse of Cotse.net’s service – seems to be that their subscribers really have had no idea who has been providing a proxy service they relied on to protect their anonymity and privacy.

Does that sound like such a good deal now?

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