Why it Pays to Read the Privacy Policy Before You Sign Up for a Service

This is especially true when signing up for “free” services and programs. Those free services and programs are usually designed to make money in one form or another; whether it’s selling your data or borrowing your bandwidth.

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.

zapyo connections

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.

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