Recently, ProPakistani got a chance to sit down with Mehreen Seher Hai, the country manager for Anchorfree which is the company behind the very popular Hotspot Shield.
We’re a bit surprised to see a dedicated country manager for Pakistan at Hotspot who’s working out of Silicon Valley. Tell us how that happened and the work you do?
Well, following the Youtube ban, Hotspot Shield experienced a massive increase in Pakistani customers, a number that has continuously been going up since. We currently have millions of active users from Pakistan. For this reason, AnchorFree recently decided to hire someone who could specifically oversee and lead all the marketing activity in the Pakistani market.
They made sure to hire someone who was originally from Pakistan and had lived there recently, to ensure proper representation. This way, I’m not only able to represent AnchorFree in Pakistan, but am also able to represent the Pakistani users to AnchorFree. My main job is to understand exactly how to best serve the needs of our Pakistani customers, and consequently grow our user base as well as our fan base in Pakistan.
Tell us a bit about how Anchorfree sees the Pakistani market?
We consider the Pakistani market one of our priorities. It is one of our biggest markets and we value it highly. We also understand that we play a significant role in the internet usage of several Pakistanis and we hope to continue doing so in the future.
We currently have hundreds of thousands of daily Pakistani users and we hope to grow that number to millions. This dedication is signaled by the fact that AnchorFree has recently taken onboard a Country Manager (myself) who’s fully dedicated to serving the Pakistani market.
Can you give us some statistics on Hotspot Shield users from Pakistan?
Following the Youtube ban in 2012, we have had millions of Hotspot Shield downloads all from Pakistani users. We currently have hundreds of thousands of active daily users from Pakistan, with active monthly users totaling millions. These numbers have been growing since, and we hope to continue and accelerate this trend!
Issues of censorship are intertwined with a VPN product. What is Hotspot’s take on the Youtube ban?
We respect and understand that the Pakistani government had good intentions behind this ban. We only mean to provide the Pakistani public with some of the great content they’re missing out on. The Youtube ban has taken away the Pakistani public’s access to several amazing resources available on this site, such as educational and instructional videos as well entertainment channels that cater to almost every online individual in some manner.
It can also be an invaluable resource to the Pakistanis who are trying to build an online presence through their blogs and videos. Consequently, we see a massive number of Pakistanis trying to access Youtube through us daily and we are happy to help them out.
Quite a few people frown on the use of proxies to bypass restrictions. What do you think about such objections?
We fully respect the law in Pakistan. However, we do believe that citizens have the right to access the educational and entertainment-related content that is available online. These users are also becoming increasingly concerned for their digital privacy and safety, and thus we hope to offer them peace of mind through Hotspot Shield.
How much data does Hotspot log? It’s a well known fact that NSA can ask companies to turn over all data. If that happens, are users protected and are they identifiable?
Hotspot Shield does not track or log any data that can be traced back to a user. We have absolutely no idea on who our users are or what they do while they’re using Hotspot Shield. We simply do not track or log this data. Therefore, any organization that comes to us requesting this data will be declined. We can’t turn over something that we don’t have.
Furthermore, Hotspot Shield has its own server infrastructure, which is exponentially bigger than any of our competitors. Since we own everything, we do not rely on any third party solutions. This makes the service much more secure and guarantees the privacy of our users. Also, having our own infrastructure that we’ve built over the years puts us ahead of competition in terms of the quality of the service: speed and reliability.
Hotspot Shield has been around for over 8 years so we have the most experience in this business. Our offerings are completely free to use on Windows and Android, which creates another reason why users choose Hotspot Shield over others.
Silicon Valley is hailed as the heart of innovation. Tell our readers a bit about how Pakistan’s budding ecosystem is making an impression.
Yes, I’m proud to say that the flourishing tech industry in Pakistan impresses everyone who hears about it, including people in Silicon Valley. It’s really impressive to see how speedily we’ve gone from using dial-up internet to developing a vibrant tech industry, complete with a thriving e-commerce industry and constant contributions to the global market.
Some of my favorite examples of these contributions are Convo, Groopic, Jadoo TV and Simplicant, all of which are ‘made in Pakistan’ innovations that are speedily gathering popularity in the US.