ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPNs in the world. It has tons of servers, plenty of web pages with hefty marketing content, and an admittedly decent VPN app. However, is the company and thus the services as secure as they make it out to be? ExpressVPN explains on their website that they are based in the “British Virgin Islands”. The reasoning behind this decision is that it enables them to remain outside what is known as the “14 eyes” our essentially, the global spy network alliance.
#1 ExpressVPN Uses Off Shore To Hide Hong Kong Base of Location?
If a country is outside of the 14 eyes, than that country supposedly is more secure as a base of location right? Well, why wouldn’t every VPN just “base” their VPN in this fashion? Well, a decent amount of well-funded VPNs do indeed do this by creating off-shore companies that trick users into think that they are outside the 14 eyes and have a secure base. We already covered NordVPN, and how they are using an off-shore Panama location to hide their true base of Lithuania (a country that has mandatory data-retention laws).
So just because ExpressVPN claims they are based in the British Virgin Islands, I would take that with a grain of salt. And we’ll keep discussing why that is below. Perhaps, they are based in Hong Kong, which sure as hell is no British Virgin Islands.
#2 ExpressVPN Originally Based in Hong Kong?
One reason I started this research and theories about ExpressVPN is that they originally use to be branded as a Hong Kong Based VPN. If the company originated in this fashion on their website back in 2009 or so, how could they all the sudden just change where they are based? Perhaps they haven’t. They are just hiding it.
IF a company is founded somewhere that means they have deep roots to that location. Would you want to use a VPN that started in Hong Kong? That is the question you must ask yourself.
China is one of the world’s worst countries in terms of internet censorship and deep packet inspection. Also, if you are unaware of the situation, a lot of people think Hong Kong is autonomous from China as a government. But if you do your research, like reading this article, you can see that Beijing ultimately has control and say over Hong Kong, which means that pro democracy forces are kept in the shadow of the real power of internet control and censorship and jailed journalists.
Every Chinese VPN is pretty much owned by the government, or just blocked if they are not in compliance. If a Chinese based VPN is operating from Hong Kong, China, then you can be sure the Chinese government OWNS all the data. Here is some text to confirm from their own website archived on the internet via this link in 2009.
Sure, they could have an office in the British Virgin Islands, or say they are based there, but that doesn’t mean the company is controlled there. “Unlike other VPN services, our network is located in Hong Kong, which is Asia’s premier Internet hub and offers rapid data transmission speeds to Mainland China and the rest of the world.”
“A huge advantage of our location in Hong Kong is that we benefit from uncensored and unrestricted Internet access to the outside world”.
It was only in 2010, that ExpressVPN wizened up and stopped promoting themselves as a Chinese based VPN.
#3 ExpressVPN Shares Same Office with Hong Kong Company Chengbao LTD?
Here is an interesting post made by a Reddit user. I can’t verify this user, or really say his claims are correct, but they are interesting to look at nonetheless. The user was deleted, as well was the post. Sketchy right? In this post, the user was explaining how he noticed suspicious activity when using ExpressVPN on his computer, early on in the company’s infancy.
Interesting as well, is how a Reddit user who seems to be an ExpressVPN employee responds. “We are not owned or partly owned by any Chinese company, any Chinese citizen, or anyone with ties to the Chinese government. ExpressVPN is run by individuals who created the company to fight for online privacy, security, and freedom from censorship. Having staff members in Hong Kong or anywhere else in the world for that matter is irrelevant.”
How is having staff based in Hong Kong irrelevant? I wouldn’t want my VPN to have an office in China where the gov can force said VPN company to give up customer data. But that’s not really the kicker, since ExpressVPN could be OWNED by a Hong Kong based company. I can’t prove that Chengbao Ltd, owns ExpressVPN. But I can prove that they are in the same office building, which leads me to that conclusion.
So, Chengbao Ltd is operating ExpressVPN from it’s main HQ offices in AXA Centre, Wan Chai HK, but ExpressVPN denies this. Fishy right? It’s easy to show this.
If you visit this link, you can see the offices for Chengbao, LTD. Now, get ready, here’s the kicker. I found a PDF that has an image showing ExpressVPN’s office, and guess where the location is? Here’s the PDF showing ExpressVPN offices.
We can see the ExpressVPN office marked down in the bottom left corner. It also says, AXA Centre, Wan Chai. So yes, ExpressVPN and Chenbao LTD share the same office. It appears customer services, billing, and dev takes place there. So, is it so wrong to assume that MAYBE owners are in China? You be the judge.
Additionally, I do want to point out that Chenbao, LTD is not a “Chinese company” in terms of technicalities, but there are many rumors that the owners have interests and business connections in China. It’s a private corporation, based in Hong Kong, so it would make sense for ExpressVPN to setup shop with this company since its anonymous. With an anonymous company, how can you trust them when you don’t even know who owns the business? How can you trust them when they cover up this information I’ve revealed in this post, that they are most likely based in Hong Kong?
And one more thing. Looks like I’m not the only one to come to this conclusion. Remember that Reddit post I mentioned before? Here’s a screeny from it:
Conclusion – ExpressVPN Based in Hong Kong And Why That Matters?
I want to be clear that I’m showing you findings on the internet that point to ExpressVPN sharing offices with Chenbao LTD. Which I don’t think ExpressVPN will openly admit. As you can see from the internet web archive, they claimed they used to be based in Hong Kong as well. So what do you think? Is ExpressVPN really based in the British Virgin Islands, or are they guilty of using an off-shore location as a marketing scheme and are really based in Hong Kong?