Our chapter has several VPN servers that are available to our volunteer activists and members who donate a certain amount. The servers use WireGuard, which makes it fairly easy for users to setup multiple VPN options. Scroll further down the page if you would like a quick intro to VPNs.

Our WireGuard servers are not as fast as more professional paid VPNs (such as Mulvad, which also offers WireGuard VPNs that you can pay for with cryptocurrency), nor are they as reliable as VPNs offered by more established and long running activist orgs such as Riseup or the Calyx VPN. But if you would like to use a VPN that you know is run by a group of paranoid Minnesota activists, the option is available!

What is a VPN?

Just like how a home or business needs a street address to receive physical mail, a device on the Internet needs to have an address to send and receive Data. For computers, this address is called an IP Address. Whenever you connect to a website or other online service, you usually reveal your IP address, which may in turn reveal information about who you are and where you live. The image below shows who might have access to your data in a normal internet connection.

Services like Tor and VPNs allow you to mask your IP address, which helps give you anonymity online. A VPN creates a “tunnel” between your computer and another computer (called a “server”) which then acts as your gateway onto the internet. With a VPN, websites you visit see the IP address of the server instead of your home IP address. This shifts who has access to your data away from your ISP (who will now only be able to see that you are using a VPN) and towards your VPN provider.

VPNs are great, but Tor is better

We normally recommend using the Tor Browser over VPNs, because it creates additional hops between you and your destination, eliminating your VPN provider as a single point of failure (for comparison, see what the various Tor relays below can see about you below and what your VPN Server provider can see about you above). The Tor Browser also has a host of other built in privacy and security protections, including access to more secure and private .onion websites.

But the Tor network is not ideal for some kinds of high bandwidth internet use (such as streaming or video conferencing) which can make using a VPN an essential option for the privacy minded. If you would like access to the RT4-MN VPN, feel free to join us as an activist volunteer or donate to help fund our activism