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The 6 Best Free VPN Providers – TechEye

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Free VPNs have a bit of a negative connotation, especially in comparison to paid platforms. Many free VPNs are plagued with constant advertisements, and many more aren’t very secure or privacy-focused since they collect and sell your data to third-party advertisers in order to make money.

However, not all free VPNs are complete wastes of time. In fact, some free VPN platforms are quite good, especially when you take their features into account and remember that they don’t cost anything to use.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best free VPNs for all users and see whether they’re worth the hassle of a download.

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best free VPN for most people is Hotspot Shield.

Why Choose a Free VPN?

The most obvious reason to target a free virtual private network instead of a paid VPN, like NordVPN, is the price difference. After all, if you could get free anonymity as you browse the Internet or access restricted content that your government doesn’t normally allow, all without spending a penny, wouldn’t you?

While this sounds like a great deal on the surface, there are some issues with free VPNs you should be aware of before downloading one.

For starters, remember that all VPN companies have to turn a profit in some way. If they offer their VPN services for free, that usually means that they are collecting something else from you – like your data. In fact, many of the best free VPNs will sell their users’ data to third parties in order to turn a profit.

This somewhat defeats the purpose of browsing anonymously and stands in stark contrast to many peoples’ reasons for turning to VPNs in the first place. Furthermore, many free VPNs will include data caps or otherwise limit the amount of stuff you can download or browse. This means that some free VPN services aren’t great for streaming video or torrenting: two popular activities that take up the majority of private downloading time for free VPN users.

Free VPNs also normally suffer when it comes to customer support or extra features. Many of these services are necessarily bare bones since their operators aren’t very profitable compared to their paid counterparts.

This doesn’t mean that free VPNs aren’t worth your time. It just helps to know what you’re getting into. Don’t download a free VPN service expecting the best of the best or unlimited bandwidth. Instead, use free VPNs as limited and temporary tools.

It’s often great to use a free VPN to see if it actually works for your needs before purchasing a paid tier of service. Or you use a free VPN for a very minor or brief foray into private browsing – for instance, maybe you really want to unblock an episode of a TV show that is geographically limited in your country, and don’t want to use the VPN beyond seeing that episode. Free VPNs are also useful for adding some protection while you browse on public wifi: a dangerous gambit at best.

Additionally, free VPNs can vary dramatically from the best to the worst. Keep reading if you want to see the top free VPNs available instead of scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel.


The 6 Best Free VPN Providers (2020)

1. Hotspot Shield Free VPN

Hotspot Shield Free VPN is a phenomenal example of a free VPN service. There’s a lot to like right out of the digital box, including a 500 MB daily data allowance. This isn’t enough to watch tons of YouTube or stream a lot of television, but it’s great for general browsing and downloading some pictures. Since the limit refreshes daily, you may never feel the real restrictions of this cap. This limit is also fairly generous compared to many of the other free VPNs on the market.

Hotspot Shield Free VPN also offers military-grade encryption for users’ security. What this actually means is kept somewhat secret, as the Hotspot Shield Free VPN site only offers generalities. Still, it does assure users that their data will be safe from government snooping or from malicious hackers or malware. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs you can get for free.

Most users will appreciate that Hotspot Shield Free VPN is very easy to use and features an intuitive interface. You can access the VPN features via mobile devices, like an iPhone or Android phone, or your Mac or Windows desktops, and either way, you’ll be able to start browsing anonymously or from different IP addresses quickly and smoothly.

Hotspot Shield Free only offers a single US-based VPN server for connecting to, however, which is very limited compared to the 70+ countries you can choose from with the paid version.

One other thing to note is that all Android users will have to put up with ads. Even with these minor downsides, Hotspot Shield Free VPN offers a lot to like and is one of the most generous free VPN services you can find.

Key Features:

  • 500 MB daily cap
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Anchors users to a single US-based location
  • Support for all major platforms/OS

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield Free VPN is a phenomenal example of a free VPN service.


2. TunnelBear

Many folks have heard of TunnelBear, and for good reason; it’s one of the most user-friendly free VPN services on the market. This is bolstered by its colorful and simplistic design, which can help set your mind at ease if you are just getting into using a VPN for the first time. TunnelBear unfortunately has a cap of 500 MB per month. This is a serious limitation and means you should only use the free version of TunnelBear for brief browsing activities or when you must be anonymous on short notice.

This also means TunnelBear is a poor choice for streaming and torrenting Netflix or other media, as you’ll blow through that monthly allowance pretty quickly. The good news is that TunnelBear only collects the bare minimum of data from its users, so you don’t have to worry too much about your data being exploited by third-party advertisers. You don’t even have to supply your first name when you sign up.

TunnelBear offers desktop and mobile clients for all users, and both run very well. They also offer a plethora of anchor locations, both domestically and internationally. Ultimately, we’d only recommend using TunnelBear if you only need to rely on a free VPN once in a while.

Key Features:

  • 500 MB monthly data cap
  • Has both mobile and desktop interfaces
  • Interface is intuitive and user-friendly
  • Doesn’t collect a ton of user data

TunnelBear

Many folks have heard of TunnelBear, and for good reason; it’s one of the most user-friendly free VPN services on the market.


3. ProtonVPN Free

ProtonVPN Free is most distinguished from other free VPN providers by a lack of data restrictions. That’s right – you can use this free VPN app as much as you want, making it the prime choice for streaming and torrenting to your heart’s content. Unlimited free data is incredibly rare for any free VPN provider to offer, so consider it if you want to use a VPN for the above activities more than anything else.

However, there are some restrictions. You can only use ProtonVPN Free on a single device, and there are only three anchor locations. Furthermore, all free users have lower data download priority compared to any of the paying subscribers, so you may see spikes and dips in your data download speeds.

But they also don’t log your online activity, so you won’t have too much data scooped for use by third-party advertising companies. You only need to supply your email address to sign up. We also like that there aren’t any incessant advertisements to sit through.

All in all, it’s a fantastic free VPN with advantages that help to offset many of the traditional downsides to using these affordable services. If you can stomach slow download speeds from time to time, ProtonVPN Free is a great choice.

Key Features:

  • No data cap
  • 3 anchor locations
  • Only use it on one device
  • Paid users get traffic priority

ProtonVPN Free

ProtonVPN Free is most distinguished from other free VPN providers by a lack of data restrictions.


4. Windscribe

Windscribe is one of the few free VPN services that are available for Linux, but it’s also noteworthy since it offers a relatively high data download limit of 10 GB per month. This is much higher than TunnelBear’s. To make things even better, Windscribe offers 10 anchor locations, including several in international locations like Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Hong Kong.

They’re most notable, however, for their excellent privacy policy. They don’t store any VPN connection logs, site visits, or IP address stamps. It does store your username and how much data you transfer, but even that stuff is erased after three minutes upon ending your session. There’s even an ad blocker and firewall built into the software.

Thus, you don’t have to worry about your data being surreptitiously gathered and used against you at any point. The downside is that traffic speeds are notoriously inconsistent. While this can be a decent pick for torrenting or streaming services, it’s far from the most reliable on the market. All in all, it’s a good free VPN service for those concerned about privacy more than anything else.

Key Features:

  • 10 GB data cap
  • Excellent online privacy policy
  • Works for Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android
  • Inconsistent download speeds

Windscribe

Windscribe is one of the few free VPN services that are available for Linux, but it’s also noteworthy since it offers a relatively high data download limit of 10 GB per month.


5. Speedify

Speedify, as befitting its name, is a pretty fast VPN for general browsing and small file downloads. You get a 2 GB per month data limit, which is low but not as restrictive as TunnelBear. It boosts regular browsing speed by using the best available Internet connections based on your anchor point. It also uses “turbocharging” technology to improve this even further, though the technical specifics are a bit hard to determine.

Regardless, the free version of this VPN offers high speeds due to some choice servers in their collection. You’re still limited by your data cap, of course. Interesting, Speedify isn’t a great choice if you want to stream – this is partially because of the data cap, but there’s something about its servers that makes it uniquely bad for transferring streaming data from server to server.

Speedify is also pretty solid when it comes to privacy, though Windscribe is a bit better on that front as well. Ultimately, Speedify is a great choice if you mostly want to use a VPN for private browsing and aren’t concerned with torrenting or streaming shows from other countries.

Key Features:

  • Fast browsing speeds
  • Good privacy settings
  • Bad for streaming
  • 2 GB per month limit

Speedify

Speedify, as befitting its name, is a pretty fast VPN for general browsing and small file downloads.


6. Hide.me

Hide.me, as the name suggests, is a free VPN largely concerned with offering its users fantastic privacy and totally anonymous browsing. You get 2 GB of data per month to use with the free plan, and there are other limitations like device limits (one maximum) and a low number of server locations (only five between the US and Canada). However, they never throttle your connection speed and, most importantly, Hide.me doesn’t store user logs or data, nor does it pass any of that onto third parties.

Even better, there aren’t any advertisements to suffer through at any point. Hide.me’s client, regardless of the operating system you use, is slick and smooth, and they offer 24/7 technical support for all their users, even free ones.

It’s best to think of Hide.me as the ideal choice if you don’t want your data to be sent to any advertising agency period. There are better free VPN options in terms of download limits and anchor server options, but few do privacy and anonymity better than Hide.me.

Key Features:

  • Very good privacy policy
  • No ads to sit through
  • 24/7 technical support
  • 2 GB of data per month

Hide.me

Hide.me, as the name suggests, is a free VPN largely concerned with offering its users fantastic privacy and totally anonymous browsing.


How to Choose the Best Free VPN for Your Privacy Needs

Finding a handful of great free VPN’s is one thing – determining the best free VPN for your unique privacy or downloading needs is another. Let’s focus on the aspects you should consider as you select your free VPN.

Why Do You Need a Free VPN?

The first thing to think about is why you want to use a free VPN in the first place. Generally speaking, people use VPNs for one of three reasons:

  • To browse the Internet semi-anonymously
  • To download and/or stream shows and other media they can’t access due to geographic restrictions for their home IP address
  • To enjoy better browsing security against hackers

More private internet access is becoming more popular, through unblocking streaming is also quite important for most users. Each of these reasons is perfectly valid, and neither is more important than another. However, they each require different things from a VPN provider.

For instance, some free VPNs prioritize anonymity and use special channels or servers that are excellent at allowing their users to browse anonymously. They’ll also prioritize things like data log deletion, or even refuse to gather data logs and other privacy information from their users. Instead, they may use advertisements or other methods of generating revenue. Hide.me does this very well.

Some VPNs are better for streaming and usually come without data caps. That’s because streaming and media downloads can quickly run up a data limit. You’ll want to prioritize VPNs like ProtonVPN if this is what you’re interested in.

Still more VPNs are excellent in terms of security and are good choices if you suspect that your identity is at risk or you don’t want to be hacked when visiting a sketchy website. Hotspot Shield VPN is a good example of one of these services.

In short, figure out why you want to use a VPN and you can find the best free VPN for that purpose from the list above.

Does the VPN Have a Paid Version?

It’s also smart to see whether a given free VPN has a paid version you can upgrade to in the future. While you may not want to pay money for extra features or better bandwidth limits right now, you might come into more money later and decide to go through with an upgrade.

It’s often easier to upgrade within the same VPN provider that it is to switch providers outright. Thus, check to see whether a free VPN only comes as a free version or if there’s a better premium service available you can take advantage of later. Some premium VPNs have a 30-day money-back guarantee – this is almost as good as free VPN if you remember your time limit to spare your credit card.

Performance and User-Friendliness

Naturally, the user interface and performance quality of a given free VPN can impact how well you enjoy using the software or platform. Some VPNs, like Hotspot Shield Free VPN, have particularly slick user interfaces that are easy for beginners to grasp and fully take advantage of. Hotspot also has excellent performance rankings across the board, so you shouldn’t experience too much lag or sputtering, even when watching your favorite media.

Performance is most important if you want to stream or download media frequently. Nothing ruins a good show like rendering or buffering every few seconds. Most of the VPN services that have high data download limits also have good performance specifically for this reason, while others, like Speedify, aren’t very good in terms of streaming performance and are better for general but anonymous browsing.

Available Servers

The available servers or anchor points that a given free VPN offers essentially determines which places you can disguise your IP address as coming from. More servers mean more opportunities to find smooth connections to the servers you are trying to reach, and a better overall traffic load.

For instance, if a free VPN only has a single server for its free users, you can expect lots of buffering or poor performance since all the free users will be clogging that server, trying to download stuff or browse the Internet.

Multiple available servers are also important if you want to download or torrent media that is outlawed in your home country. Services like TunnelBear are great for this, offering a plethora of foreign servers so there’s almost always a place available where you can access and download media without too much trouble.

If you’re just interested in regular anonymous browsing, server variety isn’t quite as important.

Browser Extensions

Some VPNs offer browser extensions, which allow you to combine the VPN’s services with some kinds of browsers. Browsers like Chrome, Explorer, and Edge are notorious for collecting user data, while others, like Firefox, don’t need a VPN as much thanks to their user-friendly data logging policies.

Privacy Policies

As mentioned earlier, many of the best free VPN services turn a profit by selling the browsing or log data of their users. If this is something you don’t want to happen to you, focus on a free VPN like Hide.me, which doesn’t log data from its users and doesn’t sell any data to third-party advertising or marketing companies.

This can be important if you’re committed to lowering your digital presence on the web, or if you just don’t like the idea of your activity being tracked by any organization, whether it’s government or private. On the flip side, if you only want to avoid being easily hacked or you just want to download media from another country, privacy may not be quite as important and you can focus on other issues.

Security

The last big thing to keep in mind is security. This most important if you want to use a free VPN to lower the likelihood of attracting a hacker or identity thief as you browse a sketchy website. Some services, like Hotspot Shield Free VPN, are particularly good on this point, while others don’t put as much of a priority on it.


Takeaway

Ultimately, Hotspot Shield Free VPN is the best of the bunch thanks to its excellent security, intuitive user interface, and relatively generous daily data limit of 500 MB per day.

However, readers might also appreciate Proton VPN Free, which offers unlimited data transfer all without costing a penny. Others might want Hide.me, which is the best of the best when it comes to total privacy and protecting its users’ personal data and personal information. There are plenty of other VPNs we haven’t even mentioned, including OpenVPN, ExpressVPN, SurfShark,

The great news is that you can try any and all of these services as much as you like since you don’t have to put any money down upfront. Give them a shot and let us know what you think!




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The Lovers’ Guide at 30: did the bestselling video make Britain better in bed? | Relationships and sex education

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The second sexual revolution began 30 years ago, on 23 September 1991, with the release of an educational videotape called The Lovers’ Guide. The revolution’s unlikely figureheads were a film producer who had been making how-to videos about gardening and pets and cooking, and a 56-year-old doctor, while their ally was an American former TV and theatre director who had become Britain’s chief film censor.

The producer was a man called Robert Page, who had been approached by Virgin – which had recently started making condoms – to make a sexual health film for men that explained how to use one. There were two difficulties with that. The first was that no erect penis had been shown on screen in Britain. The second was that Page had no interest in making a film about penises. The censor – James Ferman, the director of the British Board of Film Classification from 1975 to 1999 – took care of the first issue.

“I was talking to the great James Ferman,” Page says, talking from New York, where he now lives, “and he went, ‘There’s only one law, and it’s called obscenity and it’s that which will deprave and corrupt.’ He said, ‘I see nothing depraving or corrupting in a man pulling a condom on in this era. I think it’s downright sensible.’”

Page brought up the second issue. “I went, ‘You know all these how-to videos? There’s this area of life that we don’t talk about. You wouldn’t let me make one about sex, would you?’ He said, ‘What would you want to show?’ I went, ‘Men and women, with actual intercourse.’” Page wanted to show oral sex. He wanted to show genitals. He wanted to show the things that even films made for sex shops couldn’t show, and he wanted to show them in a film that would get an 18 certificate and be sold as a VHS tape on the high street.

Film censor James Ferman.
Film censor James Ferman. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images

Ferman laid down conditions. The film had to be fronted by a doctor. The script had to be approved by a reputable organisation. There was to be no lingering on the explicit shots. It was not, in short, to be a mucky film, regardless of what its viewers might use it for.

Page wanted Alex Comfort, the author of The Joy of Sex, to be the doctor, but Comfort’s publishers rejected the idea. Instead he turned to Andrew Stanway, another veteran “sexologist”, with a string of books to his name (Stanway did not respond to requests for an interview). “He was a quite tall, wide man, with huge hands,” says Simon Ludgate, who was hired as director. “He had greying, curly, fair hair, a pointy nose and beady eyes. He reminded me of a bad magician with a ‘look into my eyes’ hypnotic stare.”

It’s Stanway who gives the clinical narration – “The clearest sign of male sexual arousal is an erection. Tissue within the penis fills with blood, making it stiffen. As arousal increases, so does heart rate. Breathing quickens and the nostrils flare” – and he both co-wrote the script and helped recruit the film’s stars. Chief among them were Tony and Wendy Duffield, former patients of his, who went on to be the Brad and Angelina of the sex ed video market. They later appeared on Desmond Morris’s The Human Animal making love with tiny cameras inside them to show the processes at work.

The Duffields weren’t the real problem, though. “There were a couple of people, who were supposed to be a couple and weren’t,” Page says. “One of the guys, the one who stands up to masturbate – Marino – was an adult film professional. We didn’t know that, but the press knew right away. I can’t tell you how naive we were. We had no idea. We had never been in this world. We had done very wholesome stuff, so doing this was breaking new ground.”

The press did indeed know right away, and before the film came out the News of the World revealed the fact that The Lovers’ Guide featured porn stars. “It almost sank us,” Ludgate says. “Woolworths at that point said they weren’t going to stock it, and Woolworths at the time were massive. And then WH Smith said they weren’t going to.”

The shops relented in time for release, and The Lovers’ Guide arrived on the high street. Page and Ludgate are insistent that their motives were purely to help couples, though the film’s makers knew the first certified film to feature explicit sex, even with Stanway’s lugubrious voiceover, would fly out of the shops, and not just to people wanting to learn some new positions. And so Page spent more on The Lovers’ Guide – it was shot on film, not tape, with purpose-built sets – than anything he had ever made before.

He says now he thought it might rival the 250,000 copies of a Neighbours tie-in video he had made. In fact, it sold 200,000 copies in its first fortnight, going on to sell 1.3m in the UK alone, and hundreds of thousands more around the world. (“My greatest regret is not taking a percentage,” Ludgate says. “I still kick myself about that.”)

Dr Andrew Stanway, who did the voiceover for The Lovers’ Guide.
Dr Andrew Stanway, who did the voiceover for The Lovers’ Guide. Photograph: Honey Salvadori/Channel 5

Looking at it now, in a world of Pornhub, YouPorn, PornMD and everything else, The Lovers’ Guide seems almost unbearably innocent. It is sex at its gentlest. Everything is shot in soft focus; candles are everywhere. (Page was insistent the film’s primary market be women, though the soft focus and candles spoke more to male ideas of female sexuality. Nevertheless, 55% of buyers were women.) Couples wander through fields, smiling happily, before retiring to bedrooms and bathrooms for soft and sensual lovemaking (with a voiceover). Nothing from it would now get anywhere near the front page of a porn aggregator site.

“Some of the sex scenes in The Lovers’ Guide were certainly erotic,” Ferman – who died in 2002 – would later say. “But eroticism was never, I think, the primary purpose of the scene. The primary function of the scene was to be helpful to couples in the audience who were trying to improve their own sex life.” He argued that what separated the finished film from pornography was context: “You weren’t looking at two bodies, two strangers on screen having it away. You were actually looking at people who told what sex meant to them, what their relationships meant, what they wanted to do, what they were trying to do. And they were real people. And ordinary people watching felt, ‘They are just like us, and if this is what they do, this is what we can do.’”

Page accepts that not all his audience had education in mind, but takes the view that he was smuggling greens into their meal. “We discussed this with Jim Ferman. They were buying it to get off on it, but actually they’d learn loads of things along the way. If it had been some medical thing with diagrams, who would have bought it?” (Curiously, Ludgate says that’s exactly what Stanway wanted – women with their legs in stirrups while he pointed out the clitoris.) “There were 10,000 or so letters,” Page continues, “saying, ‘We’ve been married x years, we started watching your programme and we were making love on the living room carpet before it had finished. Thank you for saving our marriage.’ And that was fantastic.”

What was crucial was that you could buy The Lovers’ Guide easily. There were only 80 or so licensed sex shops in the UK, selling R18 films – which were not, at that point, as explicit as The Lovers’ Guide. “My family moved to Cornwall in the 1990s,” says Clarissa Smith, editor of the academic journal Porn Studies, “and the nearest sex shops were in Plymouth or Bristol, but you could buy The Lovers’ Guide in WH Smith. The ease of access was definitely really important.”

While it wasn’t pornography, it was revolutionary. Politics has the concept of the Overton window – the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time – in which the centre of political gravity shifts left and right. One might think of sex, too, as having its own Overton window, and the 90s saw that window shift to allow portrayals of explicit sex, and an explosion in pornography.

There were simple, practical, legal reasons for that. From 1986, the Reagan and Bush administrations in the US had vigorously pursued obscenity prosecutions against pornographic film-makers. Bill Clinton came to power in 1993 promising to follow that agenda; in fact the Clinton administration had virtually no interest in prosecuting pornographers. In 1992, there were 42 prosecutions in the US in which federal obscenity offences were the lead charge; by 1998, there were only six. The result was a boom in porn production, and the rise of mega-studios such as Evil Empire and Vivid Entertainment.

That would have been irrelevant had porn remained the preserve of sex shops. But three things were happening at once. First, escalating traffic loads caused the first wave of free porn sites – often run by college students, and usually consisting of images stolen from professional porn – to fade from business, because they didn’t have the bandwidth to continue. Second, in summer 1994, a man sold a Sting CD to his friend over the internet, described by the New York Times as “the first retail transaction on the internet using a readily available version of a powerful data encryption software designed to guarantee privacy”. E-commerce was born. It wasn’t long before those who lived too far from sex shops, or who couldn’t bring themselves to walk into one, would be able to buy those Evil Empire and Vivid films without leaving their homes: they could visit a site such as Blissbox and have them delivered, in plain packaging, for the same cost as a Hollywood film, rather than the high prices charged by sex shops for something tamer. Third, a dancer and stripper called Danni Ashe noticed how many of her pictures were being traded on Usenet groups, and set up her own website, sparking a rush for porn producers to sell content directly via the internet.

Margi Clarke’s TV show The Good Sex Guide launched in 1993.
Margi Clarke’s TV show The Good Sex Guide launched in 1993. Photograph: PA Images/Alamy

At the same time, the culture was changing. Soft porn mags for women were launching, as was the hugely explicit Black Lace series of novels, also aimed at women, which sold more than 4m copies between its launch in 1993 and its closure in 2009. Margi Clarke’s TV show The Good Sex Guide launched in 1993, and got unheard-of ratings for a late-night show: 13 million viewers. And a new kind of male culture – in which it was assumed and accepted that viewing porn was nothing to be ashamed of – was emerging. Porn was in newsagents, in the “lad mags”, and it was on screen.

By the end of the 1990s, what was officially licensed lagged so far behind what was readily available to anyone with an internet connection and a credit card that change was inevitable. The driver of change, again, was James Ferman. He was convinced the only way to draw people away from violent pornography – his particular bete noire – was to grant R18 certificates to films depicting consensual penetration and allow them to be sold in licensed sex shops. The test case was a film called Makin’ Whoopee, to the outrage of the new home secretary, Jack Straw.

Straw summoned the BBFC’s vice-president, Lord Birkett, to his office and railed at him. “Do you really mean that you are going to allow oral sex and buggery and I don’t know what else?” Birkett later recalled Straw as saying. “That you are actually passing this? You are giving a certificate to it?”

In the face of Straw’s rage, the BBFC withdrew Makin’ Whoopee’s certification, and Straw changed the body’s leadership, with Ferman and Birkett departing. But in his final report for the BBFC, Ferman displayed prescience. “It may well be that in the 21st century, it simply becomes impossible to impose the kind of regulation which the board exists to provide,” he wrote. “After all, what is the point of cutting a gang-rape scene in a British version of a film if that film is accessible down a telephone line from outside British territorial waters? I am probably the last of the old-time regulators.” Ferman may have lost his job, but he won the fight with Straw – for another statutory body, the Video Appeals Committee, simply reversed the BBFC’s decision to back down, and seven porn films were licensed for sale in sex shops. Censorship of pornography had, to all intents and purposes, finished in the UK.

The Lovers’ Guide did not cause the collapse of censorship. It did not lead to YouPorn. That was the internet. But it was the starting point for a decade of change. “I think it was one of those moments in social history where there was a need for change, and we fulfilled the need,” Ludgate says. “I think there was a collective need for change, and curiosity. Since the 60s, the cult of the individual had grown and this was part of that process. It was something people wanted individually that changed a lot of attitudes towards sex. I think it was a massive, seismic shift in attitudes.”

And still it does its work. A few weeks after we talk, Page forwards an email he has just received. “Hi Robert. I just want to give you a VERY, VERY BIG THANK YOU AGAIN. I have bought your complete collection of The Lover’s GUIDE. Your work is impeccable. I began watching them, and all I can say is. You sir are AWESOME. What I have been learning from them is amazing, and I just really wanted to THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!!!!”

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Raspberry Pi’s trading arm snags £33m investment as flotation rumours sink • The Register

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The trading arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation has received a £33m investment – putting paid to rumours that the company was looking to float on the stock exchange as a means of funding growth.

The Raspberry Pi project came to the public’s attention back in 2011, and by the time the education-focused single-board computer entered mass production a year later demand was high – so high that its initial production run of 10,000 units sold out in seconds.

In the years since, the project has gone from strength to strength with increasingly powerful successor devices, a recent foray into microcontrollers designed by its in-house integrated circuit team, variants designed for embedding, and even its first consumer product, the Raspberry Pi 400, which packs the company’s single-board computer tech into a keyboard chassis named for Atari’s famous family of eight-bit microcomputers.

Earlier this year, a report claimed that Raspberry Pi was to float on the stock market with a £300m valuation – a suggestion co-founder Eben Upton gently dismissed as being a simple chat with unnamed advisors about “how we might fund the future growth of the business” that had been “over-interpreted” by the media.

Now the meat behind the sizzle has been revealed: a report in The Telegraph confirming the sale of stakes in the company to Lansdowne Partners and the Ezrah Charitable Trust – providing $45m (around £33m) in funding without needing to go public.

The investment puts the company at a valuation of around $500m (around £366m), slightly higher than its previously suggested worth, but a potential bargain given the company’s high profile and sales on track to exceed 40 million units across its product range – boosted by increased demand during pandemic lockdown periods and units which have made their way to the International Space Station.

Lansdowne Partners’ presence in the list of investors is less surprising than Ezrah Charitable Trust. The latter was founded by former Goldman Sachs vice-president and Farallon Capital Management partner David Cohen in 2016 to focus “on the poorest of the poor, especially in Africa” – an indicator that it may be the work of the not-for-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation that was of interest.

According to executive director Kevin L Miller’s LinkedIn profile, Ezrah Charitable Trust remains “dedicated to serving people burdened by poverty by providing catalytic support to our high-impact implementing partners” – among which Raspberry Pi can now be counted.

Which isn’t to say there isn’t cash on the table while the charity works to improve access to computing for all. The foundation’s 2020 financials [PDF] showed a total group income of over £95.8m, nearly double the £49.5m it reported in 2019.

“The commercial and human impact [Raspberry Pi] has achieved in its first decade has been extraordinary,” Peter Davies, Lansdowne partner and head of developed markets strategy, claimed in a statement to press on the investment, “and we look forward to assisting the company to expand this even further in coming years as new capital is deployed.”

Neither Raspberry Pi nor Ezrah Charitable Trust responded to requests for comment in time for publication. ®

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TrueLayer achieves unicorn status after $130m round involving Stripe

Voice Of EU

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The British start-up plans to use the funds to expand after it announced the opening of a European HQ in Dublin last month.

TrueLayer has raised $130m in a funding round that saw participation from Stripe and gives the fintech start-up a post-money valuation of over $1bn.

The British company, which develops APIs to securely connect fintech platforms directly to banks, announced last month that it’s opening a European HQ in Dublin, hiring 25 people. TrueLayer has received authorisation from the Central Bank to operate in Ireland.

The round was led by Tiger Global Management, and comes after TrueLayer’s $70m Series D round in April of this year. The company has now raised about $272m in total.

Alex Cook, partner at Tiger Global Management, commented: “The shift to alternative payment methods is accelerating with the global growth of online commerce, and we believe TrueLayer will play a central role in making these payment methods more accessible.

“We’re excited to partner with Francesco, Luca and the TrueLayer team as they help customers increase conversion and continue to grow the network.”

Stripe, which last week announced its intention to grow its Dublin presence significantly, was already an investor in TrueLayer. The Irish-founded payments giant has invested numerous up-and-coming fintech ventures across the US and Europe, such as a renewed interest in Ramp in late August.

Speaking to the Irish Times, TrueLayer Ireland CEO and general manager for Europe Joe Morley said: “The fundraise allows us to commit even further to our markets in Europe…and allows us to start thinking about broader expansion.

“But our focus in the short to medium term is to make sure we win in Europe so we’re really doubling down on what we had already initiated with our last funding round.”

Morley formerly worked as an executive at Facebook and WhatsApp, and is joined by fellow Facebook alum Leigh-Anne Cotter as TrueLayer Ireland COO.

TrueLayer says that, during 2021, it has so far seen a 400pc increase in volume of payments and 800pc increase in total payment valuation through its APIs. It also claims to have “millions of customers” and more than 10,000 developers using its systems.

The company plans to use the fresh funding to expand into new markets and to increase the penetration of open banking services in regions in which it already operates.

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