Why it pays to read the privacy policy before you sign up for a service

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 4, 2015

I browse the Firefox add-on store regularly to find out what is new and updated. Discovered the add-on Zapyo in the store which promises "Internet without restrictions".

It is not only available for Firefox but for all major browsers including Chrome and Internet Explorer.

The service is not offering VPN-like functionality but acts as a proxy for users so that blocked or restricted contents can be accessed (so that traffic flows through their servers).

For instance, if you cannot access streaming media in the US because you are abroad, you may use it to bypass that restriction.

Since it is a proxy service, it has little overhead and does not require a massive server infrastructure to serve all users and ensure that content is delivered without slow downs or other issues.

Zapyo recognizes popular sites automatically when in auto-mode, but offers a manual mode as well to get websites to work that it does not recognize.

Please note that you need to sign up using email before you can make use of the service.

What the privacy policy tells you

If you check out the website before you sign up, you find information about the service that the main content pages don't reveal.

  • The Terms and Conditions highlight that the website and its service is run by Worldwide Advertising Limited, a company incorporated in the Seychelles.
  • The Privacy Policy highlights data that the company collects and what it uses the data for.

This includes email and IP address, but also "anonymous data related to your online behavior" which includes the websites you visit and how often you do so, the browser, user agent, operating system and device you use to do that.

According to the Privacy Policy, it is being used "in retargeting campaigns and serving of online relevant ads". Retargeting works by keeping track of online users across websites to deliver offers to them that they have viewed previously. For instance, if they have visited an online store and looked at Adidas sneakers but did not purchase any, retargeting will display Adidas sneaker ads on other websites that have implemented the ad code.

The website itself connects to a large number of advertising servers, likely for use in retargeting campaigns.

The service itself does not seem to display ads on its own site or embed advertisement on third-party sites currently.

Closing Words

Free is not always free on the Internet, and there is usually a cost involved (albeit not necessarily monetary) when you sign up for free services.

In the case of Zapyo, it is your data -- anonymized -- that gets collected and processed. It is not the only service that handles things this way. In fact, most "bypass services" do the very same thing or worse, as the recent Hola incident has shown.

Now You: do you read the privacy policy and terms before you sign up?

Why it pays to read the privacy policy before you sign up for a service
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Why it pays to read the privacy policy before you sign up for a service
Find out why you should read the privacy policy and terms of service of Internet services and websites before you sign up.

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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