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VPN Use and Data Privacy Stats for 2021

Guy Fawkes Anonymous Cybersecurity Experts

In this golden era of data security awareness, we ventured to find out just how informed people are about their safety and privacy online.

The research we conducted showed particularly surprising - and even concerning - results. We asked questions like, where are people using VPNs? Who is using the Dark Web? And which government requests the most personal data from Google?

Most people (78%) still have no idea what their government does with their data. For Generation Z, however, it doesn’t matter as much - they’re the least worried about data protection, even though their exponentially higher online presence exposes them to many risks.

Here you will find updated VPN and Data Privacy Statistics, utilizing our own research, internal metadata, and expert analysis.

Data Privacy

In the face of recent global crises, 2021 will prove to be a watershed year, especially in terms of public focus on data privacy issues.

What Does Digital Privacy Mean?

The notion of digital privacy can mean different things to different people. In a poll, web users were asked, “what does digital privacy mean to you?” The biggest group of respondents were adamant that, as a whole, having control over personal information is a key element in the matter.

How do people feel about online privacy?

Control Over Personal Data

Most people feel like they lack control over their own data and privacy on the web. There are ways to keep your online activity protected, including using one of the best VPNs.

What is disconcerting about the results of this poll is that the respondents have essentially equated private companies and the government in the control they have over individuals' sensitive information.

Control over your dataWeb

Online Freedom

The Freedom House Index measures the degree of internet freedom for citizens across many different countries. Nations that score the highest, with a maximum of 100 index points, are those which allow users to utilize the web with minimal restrictions.

Those who score among the lowest greatly restrict online activity and access, which is why their citizens rank higher among the users of VPNs, allowing them to use Facebook, watch YouTube, and search Google freely.

Internet freedom by country

Government User Data Requests to Google

Can you trust companies to not share your data? Regardless of a company’s policies or users’ presumptions of privacy, many governments have requested information on user data and activity. Here we can see that Google is one of those companies, particularly overloaded with requests from the U.S. government for said data.

User data requests by governments

Data Privacy Laws & Regulations

Registered voters were polled about their thoughts on data privacy. When asked how much of a priority creating laws that will guard the data of consumers (similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation - or GDPR for short), the Baby Boomer generational group placed the most importance on the matter.

The most indifferent group was by far the youngest, Generation Z. It is reasonable to presume that because they have come of age during a time without significant expectations of privacy online.

Does your country need better protection laws?

VPN Use 2021

Of course, VPN use and data privacy have strong correlations. By accessing a separate server for internet use, VPNs make it much more difficult for hackers and/or 3rd parties to track online activities. The following charts examine the current state of VPN use around the globe.

Top Markets for VPN Use

VPN usage around the world tells many stories. There are those who seek to broaden their options when it comes to streaming sites, citizens looking for the ability to even access some of the sites considered ‘basic’ and ‘essential’ by their counterparts in other countries, and others who simply want their privacy online. Regardless of the multitude of reasons that internet consumers have for choosing to use a VPN, we can honestly say it’s no surprise that some of the biggest markets for the industry are located in countries where many or all of those reasons converge.

VPN use around the world

The fastest-growing markets for VPNs, however, tell a slightly different story. From our internal data sources, we can see users from Slovakia have an increasing interest in the service, growing by over 300% within the last year, with countries like Spain, South Africa, and Japan not far behind.

Seven fastest growing markets for VPN use

Top 10 Reasons for VPN Use

Approximately one out of four people are using a VPN globally, mostly to access entertainment content and browse anonymously.  The main reasons given for choosing to utilize a VPN are:

  1. Unlocking geoblocked entertainment content
  2. Accessing networks and sites restricted by government
  3. Safety when using public and shared WiFi networks
  4. Surfing sites frowned upon at work
  5. Accessing blocked sites at school
  6. Using torrents, such as The Pirate Bay
  7. Hiding online behavior from the government, ISP, or employer
  8. Safe communication among journalists and sources
  9. Engaging in subversive political activity
  10. Reaching local sites while traveling internationally

People who use their VPN while traveling internationally

What Kind of People Use a VPN?

Out of internet users broken down by demographic, we are able to get a picture of what an average VPN user looks like.

Men are more likely than women to use a VPN, especially those who are between the ages of 25-34. As a whole, those residing in Europe and Asia more readily use VPNs when compared to their African and Australian counterparts. Where do you fit in?

Who uses VPNs

Can You Trust Your Own Government?

National governments have been known to establish units focusing on monitoring citizens’ activities online. There is little proven certainty of the extent to which they’ll go, nonetheless, the concern stays with web users around the world.

The two countries with citizens concerned about their governments spying on them online are Hong Kong and the United States, each tying for the notorious top spot in the category. Where does your country fit in?

Government spying

How Far Will You Go to Protect Your Privacy?

The Dark Web is a very small portion of what makes up the Deep Web, although among the non-tech savvy, both terms are often used interchangeably. The Onion Routing project (TOR) and Invisible Internet Project (I2P) are just two of the ways to access the Dark Web. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) alongside these portals is a key way to ensure your privacy is protected, but it does not mean those who use it are engaging in illegal or morally questionable activity.

Dark web

All in all, just 12% of internet users across the globe admit to having used tech that allows access to the Dark Web, with India ranking among the highest.

Why people use the dark web

The vast majority do not use these technologies to engage in illegal activities, instead insisting that their main goal is privacy. Out of people who do not use these technologies, most state that they simply do not understand them.

Why do people avoid the Dark Web

Summary of VPN Use Stats

The market for internet privacy continues to grow, led by the same global regions as recent years. In addition, access to streaming content continues to be a major motivator for VPN users, despite the claims of Netflix that they represent a small section of its overall user base.

For more related digital statistics, we have also presented a host of research analysis about vital internet trends in a previous article.

Cyber Crime

Cyber crimes continue to evolve. As shown in the following charts, the amount of breaches remains high and the challenges for both consumers and businesses to protect against evolving threats are abundant.

Data Breaches

The most recent numbers show a decrease in data breaches, after a period of continued increase. Specifically, in the United States, statistics from the first half of 2020 estimate that data breaches have decreased by almost a third.

Records Exposed in U.S Data Breaches, Annually

Online Privacy Threats

According to Americans, identity theft is the largest cyber crime concern in the U.S.


Cyber Crime and Number of Household Devices

The threat of cyber crimes against individual consumers increases dramatically as the number of household devices rises.

Reported breaches

Cyber Crime Fears Create Major Online Behavior Changes

The threat of identity theft and other cyber crimes has caused almost 30% of all U.S. Internet users to avoid conducting financial transactions online at one time or another. This number increases with awareness of data security issues.

Avoided online activities

Cyber Crime Against Businesses and Organizations

For businesses and professional organizations, the threat of cyber crimes far out-distances their preparedness to deal with an attack. In fact, 63% of businesses do not have a fully operable incident response plan.

Is your business ready for a cyber attack

The Challenges of Protecting Online Privacy

There are a myriad of reasons why data privacy protection often fails, but the number one reason is an insufficient understanding and overall awareness of data privacy.

Protecting online privacy

Summary of Cyber Crime Stats

With threats such as zero-day vulnerabilities and ransomware attacks growing more powerful and sophisticated, consumers’ online behaviors will continue to be adversely affected. Additionally, as more households acquire more devices, the risk for successful attacks will increase. What’s your plan for preparedness against cyber crime?


  • Internal analytics

About the Author

Anonymous experts who write for vpnMentor but keep their identity secret.

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