VPN Services For South Africans
Jacques du Rand 2020-05-20
Those of you who can remember the time before Netflix, Showmax and Prime Video are, we’re sure, quite familiar with the term VPN (Virtual Private Network). It is what most people used in order to watch the latest movies or series that weren’t available in South Africa at that time. The likes of services like Netflix, Showmax and Prime Video have certainly made being able to find movies and series a lot easier; packaged in a neat little app that plays on your mobile device, smart TV, or casts to your non-smart TV through the click of a button.
Even so, there might still be series or movies that you can’t access from your particular country right away.
But, being able to watch the latest TV-series craze alongside counterparts in the USA without spoilers is not the only benefit of using a VPN service.
Why would people in South Africa make use of a VPN ?
Using a VPN allows you to switch your country identity.
Every single internet connection has its own address. Think of this being similar to your ‘postal’ address. This address tells websites you visit where you hail from.
Have you ever noticed how, when you browse websites like, for example Amazon.com that would usually display in USD, if you’re browsing from South Africa, it asks if you’d like to see prices in Rands? That is your little ‘internet address’ (known as IP address in the tech world) at work. Just like your postal address, your IP address is unique.
By using a VPN service, you can hide your IP address to appear from elsewhere, but in addition be less exposed online.
Other great benefits include:
Reduced Vulnerability - Every time you connect with the web, your data is easily available for third parties (such as hackers) to access. Using a VPN not only hides your location, but encrypts your information too.
Streaming - South Africa might be firmly at the bottom of the list of the countries that receive rights to international shows and programming, and using a VPN might allow you to switch your country identity so you can unblock content. This of course also works if you travel, and the content of your local show on ShowMax might not be available in another country - using a VPN can mimic your location being in SA, and thus you can continue watching your favourite local content.
Anonymity - You can remain anonymous and therefore be less exposed online. This also works great if you don’t want to be “followed around” by adverts just because you visited one site, and now you’re seeing that product ad everywhere!
Tracking - Using a VPN protects your identity every time you need to login to a website, your information will be hidden. Sure, yes, https protocol is meant to provide this layer of protection, which it does, but a VPN adds an additional layer to secure your bank transactions, and keep your digital identity safe no matter where you are.
Hotspots - You know how you like to go and work in that local coffee shop with the free wifi, or in Slow Lounge waiting for your departure? Well, think again. Hotspots are synonymous with being less secure, and therefore easy targets for digital identity thieves (amongst others). If you’re using your own computer or mobile device - keep all your information safe by only browsing through a VPN, and if you’re logging into a loan device, or a hotel computer, there is no better reason to use a VPN than your security, as VPNs keep no logs. In other words, there is no history traceable on the machine you used - and therefore your information and identity can stay secure and private.Speed - If your ISP is throttling you based on the type of traffic, a VPN might help by encrypting the traffic. Use our Internet Speed Test to confirm your fibre, lte or wifi speeds.
Legalities of using VPNs
The general legalities of using a VPN in South Africa is that it is considered legal.
As VPNs are useful in preventing access to your web activities from third parties, it is generally considered legal as long as they are not used to hide prohibited activities.
Prohibited activities may include activities such as spreading viruses; IP spoofing and hacking; and illegal file sharing or downloading of copyrighted material.
Chapter XIII of The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act No 25 of 2002 makes it a criminal offence to gain unauthorized access to data through hacking and packet sniffing, intercept or interfere with data, and commit computer related extortion, fraud and forgery.
It is also unlawful to intentionally spread viruses and Trojan horses.
It is important to note that every country has its own stance on the use of VPNs. Therefore, if you’re travelling outside of South Africa, it will be in your best interest to confirm whether usage is considered legal in the country you’re visiting.
The South African POPI Act (Protection of Personal Information Act) which seeks to regulate the processing of personal information of South African citizens was South Africa’s first step towards protecting its citizens. The personal information referred to in the Act broadly covers any information relating to an identifiable, living natural person or juristic person (companies, CC’s etc.) and includes, but is not limited to:
- contact details: email, telephone, address etc.
- demographic information: age, sex, race, birth date, ethnicity etc.
- history: employment, financial, educational, criminal, medical history
- biometric information: blood type etc.
- opinions of and about the person
- private correspondence etc.
The Act was signed into law in November 2013, but due to the grace-, and compliance period was only set to take effect from 1 April 2020, but this date has again been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. No new date has been set for the effective date of the new legislation, but could be as much as a year away.
One would assume that it would include things such as digital data usage, but at this time it does not, nor does it mention anything specific to VPN usage in the country. What it does lean towards however, is the reduction of those spammy sales calls from call centres.
VPNs are at this time only referenced in The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act No 25 of 2002, mentioned above.
GDPR and VPNs
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been a good thing for most VPNs as it has forced VPNs to become compliant and more transparent in what they tell consumers. Most VPNs claim not to keep any logs of their user data - but in some countries VPNs have to comply with the local law (think China) and still retain logs of their users. These logs can be handed over to governments (or other departments of authority) on request. But since GDPR, the ones that do keep logs also have to provide access to their clients and the ability to delete their own data (permanently) by logging into their profile.
GDPR has not had such a big impact on South Africa, as the primary purpose of the regulation is to ensure data protection for people of the European Union.
How to Choose Your VPN Service Provider
Most VPN services are based abroad and offer their product globally, including South Africa. VPN services have become quite prolific, but some providers stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Our suggestion of things to look for in a service provider, outside of price, include:
Logged vs Not Logged - By choosing to use a VPN, you are trying to achieve complete anonymity online. This includes not having your data stored with your VPN. Some countries enforce VPNs to log and keep records of their user data - as long as they disclose this to you as a user so you can make an informed decision. But if you don’t reside in one of those countries, opt for the VPN with a “no-logs” policy.
Payment options - Opt for a provider that gives you options for payment methods. This way your payment information can also stay anonymous. The reason having payment options is so important is that it will leave a “paperless” trail - guaranteeing you maximum anonymity. Some even allow payment in Bitcoin for that reason. Using third-party services such as Paypal, or “gift card” services is another way to keep your payment info secure.
Devices - Choose a provider that allows multiple device coverage. In today’s age we hop from laptop to tablet to mobile concurrently - and possibly have a multi-device home too - between operating systems (Android, Apple, Windows etc). In addition some provide coverage for apps such as AppleTV, Amazon Fire , Android TVs and even directly for your router, to name a few.
Browser Extensions - Ease of use is incredibly important too. You want the option of being able to switch to your VPN literally at the click of a button instead of browsing to a web address. Having a Chrome (or FireFox) extension (for example) that you can literally click on- or off when needed will make the world of difference to your experience, and save you time.
How hard is it to set up a VPN ?
Setting up a VPN service is a lot easier than people think.
Many people steered away from getting a VPN as they considered it highly technical to set-up, and / or use. The good news is that the more well-known providers have simplified the process to a quick guided instruction list, or as simple as downloading an app or browser extension to your device. Once set-up, it is completely hassle-free to use.
Some even provide coverage at router level. Which means all of your devices in your home will be automatically covered without having to do anything else.
The great news for South Africans is that you don't need a special router. Even the router you received from your South African ISP will work with international VPN services.
Which VPN Service To Choose ?
South Africans are really spoilt for choice when it comes to a reliable and effective VPN service. Most of the VPN services available have the features we discuss above.
If you do any kind of activity online - be it work or play - having a VPN service is a necessity to protect your data. And with it being so easy to set up and use, the hardest part will be choosing who to use.
Fibre Tiger is a proudly South African fibre and LTE comparison engine that makes finding a good South African ISP for your fibre network or LTE provider a breeze. We’ve done all the hard work by listing available options by speed and price in an easy to use format. All you need to do is fill in your address to see if you have the option for fibre or LTE/5G services. It’s almost as easy as connecting your VPN service.
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