If you've been using Hola Unblocker to get to all that lovely content on the American version of Netflix, you're not alone. It is one of the most popular Chrome extensions and has been freeing up TV shows for everyone to enjoy.
However, there's a bit of a problem with it.
The free VPN has been using some pretty dodgy business practices, and could be putting you at risk.
Of course, using any VPN comes with a number of problems, but this is worth pointing out all the same. As Hola is a peer-to-peer VPN, if you're watching episodes of Friends in the UK, you are routed through IP addresses based in The States - all the while, Hola make some money by bundling and selling people's bandwidth to a third party company called Luminati.
Luminati then re-sell the connections, which means that anyone using the free version of Hola is having their connection sold to absolutely anyone who wants it. A number of people are clearly not aware of this (bully for you if you already knew).
Motherboard explain how bleak the situation could be: "By becoming an exit node for a Tor-like network, Hola users are exposed to the same risks that Tor exit nodes operators are. Their connection can be abused by someone else, by trafficking in child pornography or downloading illegal material, for example. To police authorities, it would look like the innocent Hola user was responsible for those actions, since his or her IP address would be associated with them."
Of course, this all seems a bit pie-in-the-sky, but it is a real problem - recently, a spammer worked Hola users’ connections, bought by Luminati, to conduct a DoS attack on 8Chan. As far as the authorities are concerned, that's your IP address that did it, so to speak.
Hola have updated their FAQ to tell people about their sales practices, and say that criminals can’t use their service because "Hola is a managed and supervised network and thus any illegal activity such as CP, etc. would be reported to the authorities with the real IP of the user."
So there you have it. You've got a decision to make now - you can either get wildly jumpy and stop using Hola, or you can ride your luck and carry on watching all those unlocked shows from the American version of Netflix.