Google about to launch VPN by Google One (US-only)
Google plans to launch a virtual private network (VPN) service soon as part of the company's Google One service. VPN by Google One is limited to customers from the United States at the time of writing and included in all 2 Terabyte and higher plans. Google plans to make the VPN available to customers from other regions in the future.
The eligible Google One plans that will receive the VPN free of charge start at $9.99 per month, but only in the Google One application for Android.
All Google customers get 15 Gigabytes of storage space with a free account; customers who require more can subscribe to a paid plan to increase storage by 100 Gigabytes, 200 Gigabytes or 2 Terabytes respectively.
Google One customers do get other benefits such as options to add family members, Google Store cashbacks, or additional support options. Features depend on the selected plan and are not necessarily available for all paying customers.
Google provides just a few information about the VPN at the time of writing. According to the official site, Google won't use the VPN connection "to track, log, or sell" a customer's browsing activity, and a customer's throughput speed is not limited artificially.
Engineers developed a method that separates customer authentication from use of the VPN service. The method adds a cryptographic blinding step "between user subscription validation and connecting to the VPN".
The following data is not logged according to Google:
- Network traffic, including DNS
- IP addresses of the devices connecting to the VPN
- Bandwidth utilized by an individual user
- Connection timestamps by user
However, some data is logged at an aggregate level according to Google to "ensure a healthy and performant VPN". This includes:
- Aggregate throughput
- Aggregate VPN tunnel uptime
- Aggregate VPN tunnel setup latency
- Aggregate Total bandwidth rate
- Aggregate Packet loss rate
- Aggregate VPN tunnel failure rates
- Aggregate VPN tunnel retries
- Aggregate Service/Server CPU and memory load
- Aggregate VPN tunnel setup error rates
Additional, to measure "overall service experience, debug the service, and prevent fraud", the following data may be collected for a user:
- Use of the service in the past 28 days but not specific times it was used nor the duration of usage or amount of data transferred.
- Number of recent attempts to set up a VPN session.
- Server error logs without "request or response data".
Google has open sourced the client and plans to get the service audited by a third-party.
With growing demand for better privacy in a mixed landscape of solutions, we have used our
expertise in privacy, cryptography, and infrastructure to build a Google-grade VPN that provides additional security and privacy to online connectivity without undue performance sacrifices.
With VPN by Google One, usersâ€™ online activity is not identifiable to the VPN and not logged by the VPN. We believe a VPN must be transparent, and robust. Thatâ€™s why we have open sourced our client and will provide a third party audit of the end-to-end solution to make them externally verifiable.
VPN by Google One is a free addition to the $9.99 Google One plan, but will only be available for customers from the United States at the time of writing. Google put a lot of thought into the architecture and promises that the results of a a third-party audit will be released to increase trust in the service. The entire architecture is operated by Google.
Some questions remain at this point in time though. Will users be able to select different regional servers when using the VPN or will they automatically be connected to the fastest available server? Will the service become available for other operating systems and devices? Does it have a DNS leak protection?
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