Want to know if proxies are ethical? Or what makes a proxy provider trustworthy? In this interview of our ethicality series, Or Lenchner, the CEO of Bright Data, will share his insights about proxy ethics and how it will impact the proxy market going forward.
You can also check out the video interview here:
Are proxies always legal? Are they an ethical product in principle?
“Proxies literally mean reaching from point A to point B through point C. In our case, proxies provide access to public web data globally, no matter where you are based in the world.
Questioning the legality of proxies is one of the issues we see in this industry for no good reason. Proxy networks are legal; this was never the question. Like with all technology, the ethical question depends on how you put the technology to use.
As an operator, you need to ensure that you practice the highest standards and meet the most comprehensive compliance-driven guidelines. This is why we have built a compliance department which is unprecedented in our industry, that looks into every single use case and ensures that it follows regulations. We adhere to the highest ethical standards, implement the most rigorous KYC (Know Your Customer) processes, and monitor our network 24/7 through automated and manual checks”
Why do you think some people are wary when it comes to proxies?
“I don’t think people are wary when it comes to proxies. Proxies are at the heart of the internet and are used by most internet users, companies, and organizations.
Looking at our customer list, I’m pretty sure that there is zero concern. The web is the largest public database in the world, and it remains relevant no matter what you do. Whether you are a researcher looking to conduct academic research or a retail company wishing to compete in a very competitive landscape, you need access to public web data to make sure you know exactly what is happening in your research or business domain.
Imagine what would happen if we didn’t have such access. The consumer would pay more. The Covid-19 vaccine, for example, would have taken longer to develop and track. And many more critical missions could not have been accomplished.
As a company that offers proxy network access, we need to ensure that such access is used for providing the exact value I described. It all starts with comprehensive compliance, and I urge all operators or vendors to invest a lot of resources in it.”
What boxes should a provider tick to be considered ethical?
“Let me start by stating that to trust the data you receive, you need to ensure that you are working with a reliable partner and that the proxy network you are using is trustworthy.
We, as market leaders in this space, take this responsibility very seriously. I think that every provider should focus on placing compliance above all and look into each use case by considering if the use case is promoting a transparent view of the public web. You need to start with this simple question before addressing the money factor.
In addition, providers should have a 24/7 compliance department and operation in place headed by a well-established VP of compliance or Head of Compliance with extensive experience. Every provider should also run several third-party checks and audits that test the entire operation to ensure it’s ethical, and they should be able to present it externally.”
Is Bright Data an ethical proxy provider? If so, what did your road to ethicality look like?
“Bright Data has put ethical standards as a first priority since its establishment. Like every new technology domain, we had to learn as we advanced and through the use cases presented to us. For example, we started off with a smaller compliance team.
However, as the business grew and the demand exploded, we now have a huge team in place globally. We also recently appointed a VP of compliance and ethics that came over from KPMG, which is very well known for its high ethical standards.
It is equally important for me as a CEO to remain on top of all and to be directly involved in more complex cases. It is a rapidly evolving industry, and the data domain is only growing. Ethics is at the heart of every data company and should be the top priority of every data company and partner.”
Why should businesses care about finding an ethical proxy provider? Does it have any legal or marketing implications on the business?
“In short, of course, it does. The proxy network is there to retrieve public web data. You, as a customer, want to ensure that the data you receive is of high quality and reliable. And that starts with the partner or vendor you select.
Imagine using a provider whose network is not extensively monitored or that grants access to every possible use case for revenue regardless of compliance or international regulation. What would it mean for your data and your operation? Is this something you wish to put yourself or your business through? You want to ensure that the proxy network you use is not only following global regulation but is using its power ethically to promote transparent access to public web data and is doing so while being transparent itself.”
What are the different ways to get proxies?
“In our context, a proxy is an IP address. You have a limited amount of IP addresses in the world, and they are just like real estate; they are unique, no two IPs are the same, and you can buy or lease them.”
Where do you get your proxies from?
“From our own apps like Earn App, Bright VPN, or Piggy Box. In addition, we buy IPs. And also, from third-party applications that embedded our SDK.”
You recently released Bright VPN which uses a pretty unique and transparent business model, could you tell us more about it?
“Bright VPN is our newest VPN-based product configured to maximize users’ privacy. It is designed to disrupt the traditional VPN market by offering the same features as subscription-based VPNs while remaining 100% free to users. It opens the door to millions of users to enjoy anonymous, secure browsing. Unlike traditional VPN services, no email or account is needed.
Bright VPN was designed for everyone. Zero technical skills are required; it takes 40 seconds from downloading Bright VPN to achieve complete anonymity. Users of Bright VPN become part of a larger crowdsourcing network that allows researchers and companies to eaccess public web data for multiple purposes.
Bright VPN is committed to transparency, and as part of that, it allows its users to see and control which sites are accessed by Bright Data. Most of these are well-known online shopping and academic sites. Users may easily control when they allow their IP address to be used and even grant or deny access to specific sites. As you can see, it’s an excellent alternative to paid VPNs as it allows users to remain anonymous and protect their IPs from being tracked for commercial reasons, and it’s all for free.”
As we remember, you used to rely on Hola VPN to get proxy peers, do you still use this service?
“Of course. Hola VPN is one of the greatest products the industry has ever seen and the most popular VPN service. And yes, it’s still one of the peer sources for Bright Data. Hola VPN users love the product because they can choose whether to get it for free or not by opting into our network. A VPN has become a must-have commodity today. Everyone needs it, so think how great it is to get it for free.”
Is it possible to consider Bright VPN a spiritual successor of Hola VPN or are they completely different products all together?
“Hola VPN will continue to serve its millions of users who enjoy a free premium experience, unlocking online content no matter where they are based in the world, all for free. Hola VPN’s mission also remains the same – to provide web transparency to all. It even recently launched a new browser. Bright VPN is our newest VPN product that is configured to maximize users’ privacy. Both products serve different needs in an increasingly demanding market for these services.”
Is it safe to be a proxy peer?
“Of course. Why wouldn’t it be? All our customers’ traffic is monitored 24/7, and we only accept legitimate and ethical businesses or organizations. It’s just like renting your house on Airbnb.
Amazon, Apple, and many tech giants have recently established their community-powered networks. Such as Amazon Sidewalks or Apple AirTags, which have given a huge boost to this concept.”
How do you think the topic of ethics will impact the proxy market moving forward?
“Proxy networks and ethics go hand in hand. It will continue to be and should be our reality today. Data, after all, is one of the most sensitive assets any organization requires and, as such, should be handled with the utmost responsibility. The presence of hard ethical questions should be obvious to any company running a proxy network, which should only grow. As mentioned before, to trust the data you receive, you must trust your provider.”