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Are VPNs legal in India?

Are VPNs legal in India?


In recent years, demand for Indian VPN services in the country has boomed as it has gradually become one of the most restrictive regions in the world when it comes to internet access – the international NGO Freedom House reports that the level of internet freedom in India has declined in every region in the past four years .

The Indian government uses DNS filtering to block access to torrent platforms, separatist content, porn sites, and recently more than 200 Chinese-owned apps and platforms. All this means that many people in India are now using VPNs to circumvent internet censorship. In fact, India is now one of the leading global markets for VPNs.

However, even though the best VPN services effectively bypass restrictions by routing your internet through a server in another country or region, many people are concerned if doing so is legal. This article answers the question of whether VPNs are legal in India – and how you can use them without getting into trouble.

There are no laws directly prohibiting the use of VPNs in India, although the government certainly discourages their use.

Although VPN use in India is completely legal, there have been reports of police harassing local residents for using the VPN service. Under the Information Technology Act, the Indian government has broad powers to block websites and certain types of content, and the police have the power to search buildings without a warrant and arrest suspects if they believe they are violating the law.

For expats and tourists, prosecution is unlikely. Enforcement of censorship laws in India focuses on Indian citizens and permanent residents. However, this is largely informal, and enforcement is inconsistent across India’s many states. For example, control is more stringent in Jammu and Kashmir in the northwest, and less severe in the populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

There is also a possibility that the Indian government will try to legislate against VPNs in the near future, so it is worth checking for yourself before using a VPN in India.

(Image credit: Map Design / Shutterstock)

Another very important point to understand is that while using the VPN itself is legal, accessing blocked content may be illegal, especially if you are accessing politically sensitive or pornographic content. So even though the application is not consistent, using a VPN in India can get you into a lot of trouble, even if the VPN itself is not illegal.

And this should go without saying, but using a VPN will not protect you if you commit cybercrime online. It may be difficult for the authorities to identify you, but they will not protect you at all if you are caught. It is necessary to think of a VPN as a tool for online anonymity rather than as a complete solution.

Why should you use a VPN in India?

In 2020, the Indian government banned more than 200 Chinese social media platforms. Some of these platforms, such as WeChat, TikTok, and VivaVideo, were among the most popular in India. WeChat alone has over 100 million users in India.

If you still want to access these platforms while in India, you will need to use a VPN. A high-quality VPN will enable you to connect to a server in a place where these apps are not blocked, thus circumventing Internet censorship in India. Other reasons to use a VPN in India include protecting your online activity from monitoring or streaming geo-blocked content.

The Indian government also blocks access to websites that advocate or support separatism as determined by the government. Although a VPN will enable you to access these sites, they may cause you trouble, so we do not recommend using a VPN for this.

However, if used correctly, a VPN is one of the most secure and effective ways to bypass internet censorship in India. To make sure you can bypass restrictions legally and safely, be sure to use one of our top recommendations.

Which VPN do we recommend for users in India?

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