Are VPNs Legal? Where are they illegal? Complete guide for 2021
Are VPNs legal? The short answer is yes. In fact, VPNs were originally used to provide a secure network for large businesses and organizations. But VPNs can also be used for illegal or unrecommended activities, and they give VPNs a bad reputation. Some countries even ban them for this reason. We delve into this question and take a look at where VPNs are allowed. Participate
Before someone decides which VPN provider to choose, the first question that comes to mind is whether VPNs are legal or not. It’s a very common question people ask in online forums – and given the implications of violating the law – it’s a good idea to fully understand it.
However, the answer to the question varies from country to country. This is because some countries, such as Russia and China Declared VPNs Illegal. However, other countries still allow its use.
Before diving into the legality of VPNs, it is important to note that While VPNs may be legal, doing illegal activity with them is not allowed. If you are doing something illegal via VPN, you are bound to be prosecuted under the laws of your country. A VPN can help hide your identity, but selling drugs, copyright material, spreading viruses etc. is still illegal and obviously can get you in trouble.
Legitimate uses of VPNs
Because some, unfortunately, use VPNs for illegal matters, Many people think that VPNs are not allowed. But this is far from the truth. There are so many legitimate uses for a VPN that it simply outweighs the negatives. Here are some of the most common and popular uses for VPNs:
- Government organizations and companies use VPNs to secure their workplace. It is very important for them to add an extra layer of security to protect their sensitive data which would make it unprofitable or lead to a massive loss of intellectual property. In more secure environments – such as investment banks – employees are not allowed to directly access their workstations from home, but instead use a VPN complemented by RSA technology to make sure their data remains secure.
- People who care about their privacy use VPNs to stay anonymous and save themselves from the prying eyes of government and other organizations.. Some authors and reporters write on bold and sensitive topics. Using a VPN protects them from retaliation, hence personal security. Some people don’t want search engines to track their search history and serve them targeted ads. Using a VPN ensures that your IP address remains secure and search engines cannot identify the real person behind the VPN.
- Using public WiFi is dangerous in terms of the security of your personal data. Public WiFi networks should generally be used for internet browsing only and not for secure transactions at all. It is very easy to eavesdrop, hack or contaminate your connection with malware. Using a VPN will protect you to transfer all your data over a secure network when using an unsecured wifi setting.
- If you use VOIP services, it is important to know that it has become very easy to eavesdrop on such type of communication. You should use a VPN if you are concerned about your connection being monitored by someone.
- You can use a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions. For example, you can use Netflix or HULU outside the US or access any other country-specific service. However, please keep in mind that this usually falls under a gray area. While it’s not uncommon for these providers to sue regular people, they do have their rights to block your account and prevent you from accessing their content in the future.
Is it safe to use a VPN in restricted areas?
In terms of security, while using a VPN, most VPN providers protect their users with a strict no-logs policy. This means that your information is not tracked, and your online activity is not monitored. This is so that governments can’t get hold of your information, even if they declare that the VPN provider should report it.
However, most service providers are required to comply with the authorities of the country in which they have registered their business. So they can turn over the records to law enforcement agencies if necessary. To counter this, some VPN services operate in countries where these compliance rules are missing or very weak. This way they can get away with forcefully complying with the regulatory authorities as there is no law obligating them to do so.
As mentioned above, the legality of a VPN varies from country to country. While USA, Canada and UK allow VPNs, other countries don’t. Below, we look at countries where VPN use is partially or completely prohibited:
- China: It is not illegal to use a VPN in China, but the government has blocked most VPN sites so that you cannot download apps. VPN providers can still operate if they get a license from the government, but the terms and conditions they have to agree to pose a threat to your security.
- IraqIn order to track down and stop ISIS, Iraq has banned the use of VPNs completely. While the intent may be good, it costs citizens anonymity and privacy.
- The United Arab Emirates: It’s legal to use a VPN in the UAE, but it can cost you dearly because the fines are quite steep (up to £412,240). The main driver behind the ban is VOIP services that undermine the profits of telecom companies. So, to support these industries, the government has taken this kind of step.
- Turkey: It is legal to use a VPN in Turkey, but in order to limit the use of social media, the Turkish government has banned many websites including those that provide VPN services.
- Belarus: Belarus has banned Tor and VPN services. ISPs are required to check the daily list of prohibited services published by the agency.
- Sultanate of Oman: The state actively blocks and monitors the media, including the Internet, and prohibits the use of VPNs as well.
- Iran: The law regarding VPN use states that you can only use one if it comes from government-licensed providers, which indirectly defies the purpose of the VPN itself.
- Russia: The Russian government has passed a law banning VPNs. You can read more about the story here.
This is not an exhaustive list and laws are constantly changing, so it is always a good idea to check the latest regulations in your country. Our Live Updates page contains all the current news about Internet censorship and VPNs.
Most countries allow VPN use, so you should be fine as long as nothing illegal is done via the VPN.
In my personal opinion, I prefer net neutrality and believe that the Internet should be accessible to everyone. There should be no restrictions or favors on the part of the Internet Service Provider when it comes to providing content over the Internet. They help keep the Internet transparent, useful, and fair for everyone.
Using techniques like VPN blocking only points to a bigger problem that needs to be solved from the root rather than imposing a ban and is just a workaround at best.