Every VPN company claims superiority in one way or another: the fastest VPN, the most secure VPN, the best VPN. But it’s an unfortunate truth that, all too often, these claims are merely a load of hot air.
However, AirVPN leaves the superlatives behind, purporting itself as simply “the air to breathe the real internet.” Given how polluted the web is with trackers, malware, ads and bots, that sounds pretty darn appealing.
So what does AirVPN do to keep you secure as you traverse the free and open internet it gives you access to? To find out, we conducted this AirVPN review – read on to find out whether this VPN provider lets you float above it all or leaves you in a state of free-fall.
Based in Italy, AirVPN was started in 2010 by a small group of “hacktivists” – hackers who use their technical prowess to support activist causes, in this case internet freedom, data privacy and anti-censorship.
The company was owned by Iridium, a telecommunications company that employed and supported activists, until 2012. At this point, its ownership was transferred to a dedicated company, Air, which continues to operate AirVPN to this day.
The AirVPN team also runs several other tools related to online privacy and security: Mirrors, which provides free download mirrors for software that aligns with the company’s values; IPLeak.net, a tool for testing for IP, WebRTC and DNS leaks; My Whisper, an online text encryption tool; and Neumon, a real-time net neutrality and online censorship monitor.
At first glance, AirVPN’s website has a lot going on. Bucking the trend of the graphic-heavy, text-light VPN website, AirVPN lays it all out for you in plain text: on the homepage, you’ll learn about many of AirVPN’s technical specs, advanced features, legal aspects and more.
If you’re not well-versed in computer-speak, you may feel a little overwhelmed by all of the acronyms and technical jargon, but if you’ve got a little VPN experience under your belt, you might find AirVPN’s website to be a breath of fresh air. There’s very little in the way of gloating, upselling or bombastic claims – AirVPN lays out the facts and lets you make your own judgments.
Those accustomed to the organization of a typical VPN website – pages for features, servers and prices, plus a support base and a blog – may need some time to find everything on AirVPN’s website. The closest thing to a “features” page, for instance, is the technical specs page, which lives up to its name: it’s got an overview of every encryption and authentication option, DNS details and even a list of entry IPs and ports for every usage scenario.
AirVPN provides apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and chromeOS. It also supports routers running DD-WRT, Tomato, AsusWRT and pfSense.
The download options for each OS are numerous: the Windows app, for example, is available for every version of Windows going back to Windows XP, with options for both 64-bit and 32-bit systems. For each version, you can choose between a full app with an installer or a portable app for use on thumb drives or other portable media; additionally, the portable app is available with a GUI or as a command-line interface.
It’s a similar story with macOS: the app works on versions as old as 10.9 Mavericks and is available as a DMG disk image, a PKG package installer, a portable app, a portable command-line interface and a portable Mono command-line interface.
Linux users get a dizzying amount of choices: a 64-bit GUI app is available for Debian, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Fedora and Arch; a 32-bit version and a Raspberry Pi version are available for all of these distros except Arch. Portable and portable Mono GUI apps and command-line interfaces are available for 64-bit, 32-bit and Raspberry Pi systems.
The Android app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or directly from the AirVPN website for sideloading. It’s not just for phones and tablets, either: it can be used on Amazon devices like the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube as well.
Though iOS users don’t get an official app, AirVPN provides a guide for configuring your VPN with the official OpenVPN Connect app for iOS. The initial setup process is a little more involved than it would be with a dedicated AirVPN app, but Apple’s developer licensing restrictions make it very difficult for VPN providers to offer OpenVPN on iOS, so using the official OpenVPN app ensures a smoother user experience.
AirVPN’s app has a curious name: Eddie. At first it seems like a choice made for the sake of cuteness (it’s a reference to Eddie the Computer from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series), but there’s a surprising advantage here – since the name doesn’t contain any mention of or reference to VPNs, privacy or security, it’ll fly under the radar in the event that your device is searched or inspected for VPN apps.
Eddie has a bit of a learning curve compared to most other VPN clients. It’s got an old-school look with system stylings and a no-nonsense layout, which may be a turn-off for users who are used to the smooth edges and fancy effects of other VPN apps.
You can get connected to AirVPN’s recommended server right from the homepage, or you can use the location picker, which provides a list of every AirVPN server that you can sort by name (much like Eddie itself, each server has a unique name like Copernicus, Mensa or Dorado), city, country, load, capacity, latency, number of users or speed. Servers can be blacklisted (so they no longer appear in the list) or whitelisted (so you can see only your favorite servers in a convenient list).
Once you’re connected to a server, you’ll see your new location and IP address as well as your connection time and upload/download speeds. The simple connection process makes Eddie easy to use for the newbie or novice, but if you’re more advanced, you can venture into the settings panel and take advantage of the most comprehensive configuration options we’ve seen in a VPN app.
There are so many, in fact, that there’s no way to detail them all here; this review would be four times as long if we did! But we’ll go over some of the most common, useful and unique ones to give you an idea of the breadth of options on offer.
You can perform all the usual tasks – switching from UDP to TCP, changing DNS servers, enabling a proxy – and some less-common but still incredibly useful ones – configuring port forwarding, blocking IPv6 traffic, changing your MTU size. The “Network Lock” kill switch is also highly configurable (more on that in the “Network Lock Kill Switch” section later on).
Eddie’s “Events” tab allows you to automatically run scripts upon various events – app startup, connection establishment and disconnection, to name a few. You can, for example, have a certain website open once the VPN connects, or exit your torrent client when the VPN disconnects; however you’d like to automate your workflow, Eddie can help you out.
Chances are you’ll never need to touch many of Eddie’s settings, but should you ever need to adjust some obscure value or enable some arcane feature, the option is just a few clicks away. It’s a testament to AirVPN’s belief that users should have full control over their data – and the programs that handle it.
Usability Score: 9.5/10
AirVPN isn’t the flashiest VPN provider, opting for a more utilitarian, content-focused approach to both its website and its apps. But it just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover, because Eddie is just about the most feature-packed VPN client we’ve seen.
The versatility starts before you even download the app – a diverse array of OSes is supported, including the long-obsolete Windows XP and über-technical Arch Linux. We love the inclusion of a portable app, which allows you to use your VPN on any computer simply by plugging in a thumb drive.
Inside the apps, things are as simple or as complex as you want them to be. If you just want to get connected, you’ll be all set within a couple of clicks; the same holds true in the location picker thanks to the excellent sorting options and convenient whitelist feature.
But if you’re a fan of exploring settings and fine-tuning your tech to perfection, you could literally spend hours digging deep into Eddie’s extensive configuration options. Chances are, if you want to change something, you can – and if you can’t, thumbing through the open-source code might give you some ideas of how to implement it yourself.
If there’s one usability fault, it’s the lack of an iOS version of Eddie – though you can use AirVPN on iOS without it, you miss out on many of the settings and features that make it such a valuable app. But the fault here lies largely with Apple rather than with AirVPN, as it’s the former company’s app restrictions that prevent many VPN providers (AirVPN included) from offering OpenVPN in their apps.
Servers and Locations
AirVPN offers 240 servers in 22 countries.
Live server stats, including load and number of current users, is available on the Server Status page, which displays a country list (complete with the recommended server from each), a list of individual servers and some entertaining user stats, such as highest speeds and longest session times (all anonymized unless a nickname is volunteered). You can click on any server to view even more detailed stats like historical bandwidth graphs, available ciphers and even latencies between the server and other AirVPN servers.
The amount of transparency and data here is massive – many competitors don’t even provide simple latency readings, let alone such useful and detailed status information. This makes it incredibly easy to find the right server for you, whether you want one with the lowest ping times, the lowest load or the least packet loss.
Location diversity isn’t as strong as it is with many other providers; only North America, Europe and Asia have servers. Oceania, Africa and the Middle East aren’t home to any AirVPN servers, though a routing server is available in Australia (more on routing servers at the end of this section).
In many countries, servers are available in multiple cities: Canada has servers in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver; the UK has servers in London, Manchester and Maidenhead. The USA’s servers are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Fremont, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Pennsylvania (the city isn’t specified) and Phoenix.
South America’s two servers are both located in São Paulo, Brazil, while Asia’s 15 servers are divided between Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.
AirVPN also offers routing servers in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA. When connecting to certain websites, like Netflix and Hulu, AirVPN will automatically reroute the necessary location data packets through the appropriate routing server while using your regular server to handle the rest; you must use AirVPN’s private DNS to use the routing servers.
This allows you to access geo-restricted content no matter what server you’re on, so you don’t need to sacrifice speed and latency by connecting to a server in your target country. For example, you could connect to your nearest server in Germany, go to Netflix and automatically access the American version of the site while still enjoying the speed benefits of a local server.
It’s not what everyone wants to hear, but it’s an undeniable fact: using a VPN will decrease your speeds. Encryption and decryption both take time, and rerouting your data to the VPN server does as well.
How much speed will you lose? It’s impossible to say for sure – it depends on your base connection, your computer and router, the distance between you and your chosen server, server load and many other factors that simply can’t be predicted.
We judge a VPN’s speeds relative to those of other top providers. Based on these benchmarks, local servers should reduce your speeds by no more than 20%, long-distance connections to Europe or North America should reduce your speeds by no more than 50% and no connection should reduce your speeds by more than 90%.
AirVPN passes our tests with ease. Local connections lose an average of just 10-15% of your base speed, while Europe-North America connections fare about the same, losing 15-25% – very respectable results that should be barely noticeable on a decent base connection.
The Asian servers aren’t quite as strong, but still deliver speeds that should be more than sufficient for most uses: you’ll rarely lose more than 70% of your base speed.
Netflix, Hulu and other streaming sites are infamous for blocking VPNs, so many providers aren’t able to ensure access to these sites without taking extra measures. Some offer specialized streaming servers that are continually repopulated with fresh IP addresses, but AirVPN tries a different approach: routing servers.
As discussed in the “Servers and Locations” section, routing servers allow you to use any of AirVPN’s servers for most of your traffic while routing only the necessary packets through the routing server to the streaming site. Not only does this let you enjoy higher speeds, it also makes it more difficult for streaming sites to detect your VPN usage.
All sites listed in this AirVPN subforum automatically use the routing servers and are consistently accessible no matter which main AirVPN server you use. US Netflix and Hulu are the two main ones, though the list also includes many TV networks from the USA, France, Italy and other countries.
BBC iPlayer, unfortunately, is generally not accessible. AirVPN staff explain that BBC is one of the most aggressive VPN blockers and that all UK IP ranges available to AirVPN are already blocked by the service.
Performance Score: 9/10
If a huge server farm is a big priority for you, you might not be impressed by AirVPN’s offerings. But bigger isn’t always better – in AirVPN’s case, the company prioritizes server quality and security over quantity, a practice that pays off when it comes to reliability and speed.
The detailed server status page provides ample real-time data on all aspects of every server, making it easy to pick the best one for you. Full transparency about servers is very rare in the VPN industry, and we commend AirVPN for making this information available to its users.
A similar transparency is present regarding streaming performance, with AirVPN staff providing active communication regarding its unblocking efforts. US Netflix, perhaps the most desirable streaming site, is consistently accessible thanks to the innovative routing servers, and users are encouraged to recommend new sites on the forums.
A VPN protocol is the set of instructions your VPN client uses to perform the encryption and tunneling that are necessary to establish a secure connection and lock down your data. Different protocols have different effects on your speed, security and reliability.
Most providers offer several protocol options, but AirVPN offers only one: OpenVPN. Like AirVPN itself, OpenVPN is open-source, which contributes to its security by allowing anyone to inspect the code for vulnerabilities and ensure that no malicious code or backdoors are present.
OpenVPN is compatible with most modern devices and offers an excellent balance of speed and security. It uses UDP by default but can be switched to TCP for greater reliability (with a slight detriment to speed).
While most VPN providers don’t allow you to change your data encryption cipher, AirVPN does. The two most common choices are AES-256-CBC (which uses an ultra-strong 256-bit key and is compatible with older hardware) and AES-256-GCM (which also uses a 256-bit key and has built-in authentication, making it slightly faster on modern hardware, but may not be compatible with older processors).
In the event that you wish to use a different encryption cipher, you have plenty to choose from: AES-256 (with modes CFB, OFB, CFB1 and CFB8), AES-128 (with modes GCM, CBC, CFB, OFB, CFB1 and CFB8), Camellia-256-CBC and SEED-CBC.
A lesser-known aspect of VPN encryption is the TLS cipher, which encrypts the control channel (the part of the connection that handles authentication, IP addresses, DNS and other technical controls; your actual browsing data is handled by the aptly-named data channel). The following TLS ciphers are available: TLS-DHE-RSA-WITH-AES-256-GCM-SHA384, TLS-DHE-RSA-WITH-AES-256-CBC-SHA256, TLS-DHE-RSA-WITH-AES-256-SHA and TLS-DHE-RSA-WITH-CAMELLIA-256-CBC-SHA.
Regardless of which cipher you choose, all RSA and DHE keys are 4096 bits; the latter is automatically regenerated every 60 minutes, though you can configure it to occur more often for even greater security.
VPN Over Tor
Many providers allow you to use Tor over your VPN, but there are many disadvantages to this: you still won’t be able to access any sites that block Tor and, in the event that your Tor exit node is compromised, your data will be as vulnerable as it would be without a VPN. This is due to the order in which Tor and your VPN reroute your data.
AirVPN offers VPN over Tor, which is distinct from the “Tor over VPN” feature more commonly seen. With VPN over Tor, Eddie communicates with Tor to ensure that all data is correctly routed and protected.
All you need to do is launch Tor, enable Tor mode in the VPN client settings and connect to a VPN server. This allows you to take advantage of the extra security and .onion websites made available by Tor while still enjoying port forwarding, DDNS, routing servers and other features of AirVPN.
SSH and SSL Tunneling
For an added layer of protection, you can enable an SSH or SSL tunnel in addition to your normal AirVPN tunnel. By encasing your VPN tunnel in an SSH or SSL tunnel, you can prevent ISPs, network administrators and other snoopers from using deep packet inspection and other tactics to identify your traffic as VPN traffic.
This is especially useful in countries like China, Russia and Iran which ban or restrict VPN usage; it’s also useful when using workplace or school networks. However, due to the extra encryption, using the additional SSH or SSL tunnel will put a bit of extra strain on your hardware and reduce your speeds slightly.
Network Lock Kill Switch
A kill switch is essential for any VPN user. It prevents your IP address and other data from leaking in the event of a dropped VPN connection by cutting off your internet traffic until the VPN reconnects.
AirVPN’s kill switch is called Network Lock, and it’s one of the most powerful kill switches we’ve seen. Like everything else about AirVPN, it’s highly customizable: you can block incoming or outgoing traffic together or individually, allow certain IP addresses to bypass the kill switch or allow various types of traffic, like DNS queries or local network traffic, to continue using the network.
Security Score: 10/10
AirVPN’s commitment to security is obvious right from the get-go. By offering only OpenVPN (which is considered the most secure and stable VPN protocol widely available) and eschewing less-secure options like PPTP and L2TP/IPsec, the company ensures that no users can inadvertently put themselves at risk via their protocol choice.
Cryptography enthusiasts will no doubt appreciate AirVPN’s huge variety of encryption options for both OpenVPN and TLS, including some uncommon ciphers like Camellia and SEED. The majority of users will likely use AES-256-GCM, one of the newest and most efficient ciphers that has yet to be implemented by many of AirVPN’s competitors.
The unique AirVPN over Tor feature lets you access the deep web and lock down your data several times over without losing access to the rest of AirVPN’s features, while the optional SSH and SSL tunnels let you defeat deep packet inspection and internet censorship. For those who need serious protection, having multiple security boosts ready to go at the click of a button could be a literal lifesaver.
Even if you don’t need Tor or extra tunnels, you’ll want to take advantage of one security feature: the Network Lock kill switch. It’s one of the most advanced kill switches we’ve seen from any provider and is a must-have whether you’re a political activist, a P2P fiend or just a plain old web surfer.
AirVPN Privacy and Policies
AirVPN is based in Italy, which is not particularly well-known for its privacy friendliness. It’s a member of Fourteen Eyes, the mass surveillance and intelligence sharing alliance that also counts the USA, the UK and Australia, among others, as members.
Italy’s ability to contribute to this alliance is made possible by its data retention laws, which are some of the most draconian in Europe. As of November 2017, all ISPs and telephone companies in Italy must store massive amounts of customer data for six years, including IP addresses, email contacts, URLs visited and billing information.
Such data is only accessible by authorities if it’s needed to investigate a “serious crime,” such as terrorism, though the vague phrasing implies a good deal of leeway in deciding what constitutes a “serious crime.”
As bad as this sounds, it still leaves AirVPN in the clear; the law doesn’t apply to VPNs, only ISPs and mobile providers. AirVPN and other web companies are not required to store any customer data, so in this regard, there are no Italian laws that preclude your safety and privacy when using AirVPN.
AirVPN’s logging policy is quick and to the point: no logs of any kind at any time.
You don’t even need to provide a valid email address to sign up for AirVPN (though you can if you wish to receive support emails from the company or reset your password in the future). A disposable or invalid email address will still be accepted by the system, so long as it follows the standard email address format.
The minimal account data collected by AirVPN is encrypted and stored on highly-secure servers that are accessible only by a few select AirVPN employees. These servers are not connected to the internet and are only accessible from their physical location, which is kept secret and under state-of-the-art surveillance.
The only data ever collected from your VPN connection is the technical data that’s strictly necessary to establish and maintain the connection; it’s stored solely in RAM, never in any form of permanent storage. This data is handled solely by automated systems and is deleted as soon as it’s no longer necessary.
AirVPN permits torrenting and other P2P filesharing on all of its servers. No throttling occurs and P2P protocols are given the exact same treatment as every other protocol.
Because port forwarding is available, you’ll be able to reach top speeds and connect to the highest number of peers while torrenting. Another bonus: AirVPN has stated that it ignores all DMCA requests and their international analogs.
Privacy and Policies Score: 10/10
All too often, a VPN provider claims to keep no logs despite storing data like connection timestamps, bandwidth usage and even IP address subnets. Or the same page that decries web trackers and data farming places cookies from Google, Facebook and Twitter in your browser.
AirVPN doesn’t engage in any of this hypocrisy. Its claims of privacy friendliness and data security are backed up thoroughly by its policies: there are no logs of any kind except for your account information, and even then you don’t need to provide any personal info, not even an email address.
The company openly discusses its privacy and security practices with users on its forum, demonstrating that its claims aren’t just a bunch of hot air.
And although Italy isn’t the best place for internet privacy, its downsides are completely negated by AirVPN’s lack of logs. Even if future laws extend the current data retention requirements to private companies, AirVPN simply wouldn’t have any data to retain, since it’s never collected to begin with.
A restriction-free torrent policy is just the cherry on top of AirVPN’s fantastic practices. It’s clear that personal privacy and internet freedom aren’t just buzzwords here – they’re top priority, no matter what.
AirVPN Service and Value
Two avenues are available if you need support: the AirVPN community forum and a support ticket system.
AirVPN eschews a traditional support base in favor of a community forum, which contains both official and unofficial guides for installing, configuring, using and troubleshooting the VPN. AirVPN support staff and devoted community members alike provide assistance to users through the message board.
If you don’t feel like posting a thread on the forum, you can submit a support ticket and receive a reply from AirVPN staff instead. Response times may be on the slower side as AirVPN doesn’t outsource its customer support – all support tickets are answered by the company’s small in-house team.
You don’t need to provide a real email address to use the support ticket system; though doing so will allow you to receive an email notification when your ticket gets answered, you’ll also be able to view the response directly on the AirVPN website as well.
Pricing and Payment
AirVPN offers one service tier: unlimited bandwidth, unlimited speeds and five simultaneous connections. Seven pricing tiers are offered, ranging from three days to three years.
If you’re not sure if you want to commit to AirVPN, the shorter-term plans still provide an excellent bang for your buck. The three day plan costs 2 euros ($2.24 USD), the one month plan costs 7 euros ($7.84 USD) and the three month plan costs 15 euros ($16.80 USD).
You can save even more if you subscribe for six months (29 euros or $32.48 USD), one year (49 euros or $54.89 USD), two years (79 euros or $88.53 USD) or three years (99 euros or $110.93 USD). The three year plan represents the best value, averaging out to just over $3 a month.
AirVPN doesn’t run constant sales like most of its competitors do, nor does it hand out discount codes to review sites or other sponsorship partners. However, the company runs three sales a year that provide a fixed discount on all plans: a 20% off Christmas sale at the end of December, a 25% off birthday sale in late May or early June and a 35% off Black Friday sale in late November.
AirVPN does offer a free trial, but it’s not something you can just obtain with a couple of clicks – you need to contact the company and ask for one. If you ask politely, you’re likely to get one; it lasts for three days and gives you access to all of AirVPN’s features.
A three day refund period is offered, during which you can cancel your service and request that your payment be refunded. Refund requests are granted during this period as long as you did not exceed 5GB of bandwidth usage.
Payment is accepted through PayPal and 2Checkout. The latter is a third-party payment processor that accepts many payment methods, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, Maestro, PostePay, Giropay, wire transfer and more.
AirVPN also accepts direct cryptocurrency payments with no third-party processor. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Dogecoin and Ethereum Classic are all accepted.
Service and Value Score: 9/10
AirVPN’s customer support system has its pros and cons. On the positive side, the lively community forum provides excellent crowdsourced assistance, and the in-house support reps are knowledgeable and easy to communicate with; on the other hand, there’s no live chat option, so urgent questions may not be answered as quickly as you’d like.
Pricing is extremely competitive, even for the monthly tier. The average price of a monthly VPN plan is around $10, so the sub-$8 price point or AirVPN’s monthly plan is an excellent deal, especially if you catch one of the annual sales.
We like that a free trial is available, even if you have to be proactive to get it. It’s a fair balance between offering one upfront to anyone (and subsequently getting flooded with bots, fake accounts, spammers, scammers and freeloaders) and not offering one at all.
But the three day/5GB refund period is on the conservative side – a rare letdown from AirVPN.
Most VPN providers offer at least a seven day refund period, and longer-term plans typically come with a 30- or 45-day money-back guarantee. If you subscribe, make sure to get your testing done within three days – but don’t go too crazy on the bandwidth or you’ll risk forfeiting your payment.
Final Score: 9.5/10
AirVPN doesn’t constantly redesign its website to reflect the latest web design trends, nor does it attempt to lure you in with sales-y language and eye-catching graphics. For the aesthetically-inclined, this may not win it any points, but to us, it reflects a commitment to what’s really important in a VPN: user security, data privacy and technical transparency.
It starts with the Eddie apps, of which there are many – it’s not every day you see a VPN provider that’s compatible with so many OSes and versions, especially when it comes to Linux. Like the website, the apps prioritize utility over superficial beauty, resulting in a feature-rich (yet still user-friendly) experience.
Speaking of features, we’re all-around impressed. The extremely detailed server stats and ingenious routing servers make it a breeze to get connected to the VPN and gain access to your favorite streaming sites, all while you’re protected by your choice of many top-of-the-line encryption algorithms.
If you’re in need of even more security, AirVPN has you covered with seamless Tor support and extra SSH and SSL tunnels. To top it off, you never have to deal with hidden trackers, invasive cookies or even info-hungry signup forms – you don’t even need a valid email address!
However, the lack of an official AirVPN iOS app might be a dealbreaker for iPhone and iPad users who don’t want to tinker with the OpenVPN Connect app. And despite the total lack of logs, AirVPN’s Italian locale could turn away those who want zero risk in both the present and the future.
We do wish that the refund period was a little more generous, but highly-affordable prices and extensive cryptocurrency support make AirVPN a fantastic deal nonetheless. Simple enough for beginners and deep enough for experts, it’s both usable and uniquely committed to its mission of providing digital privacy to all.
Let’s clear the air here: there’s a lot we’ve left unsaid about internet privacy. Take a deep breath and dive into one of these topics next!
What are the Best Budget VPNs?
Not everyone can pay an arm and a leg to protect their data, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the same right to privacy as those who can. Many VPNs, like AirVPN and Private Internet Access, offer budget-friendly monthly plans that keep you secure – digitally and financially.
What are Cookies and Trackers?
It’s not paranoia, it’s just a fact: we’re being watched online, and not just by governments and ISPs. Private companies, from tech giants like Google and Facebook to retailers like Amazon and eBay, use browser cookies and web trackers to trace your web activity, build marketing profiles and even manipulate search results and online shopping prices – and they do so on just about every website out there.