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Is ExpressVPN Legal? | Tom’s guide

Is ExpressVPN Legal?

There is an age old question when it comes to what you do online. Even if you are using a popular VPN like ExpressVPN. Even if you’re doing nothing wrong and browsing all day for collectible stamps. Even if you are only protecting your privacy.

The question everyone seems to be asking is: Is using a VPN legal?

And, as with most things in life, the answer is: It depends.

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Mostly, the debate centers on three distinct areas. First, there are legal aspects about using any such service in certain countries, such as using a China VPN. Secondly, there are also some legal issues with what you send with a VPN.

And third, there are questions about the legal ramifications of the software you’re using versus what you’re transferring. They are all worth exploring, although the short answer is that ExpressVPN and other clients are perfectly legal to use in most locations. On the other hand, what you transmit can be completely illegal.

Where do you use it

ExpressVPN is an app that you can install on your phone or computer and is remarkably easy to use. There are intricacies in how it works and what happens technically in terms of encryption and tunneling that takes place, but for the end user, there are only a few settings to configure.

A VPN “only works” in the background on the phone, protecting your visits, downloads and online activities. You can think of a VPN as a car on a highway. The car itself is completely legal, but what you carry in the car can be somewhat questionable.

However, even the car is illegal in some countries. Experts disagree about the vagaries of how this works and how laws in foreign countries apply to non-nationals, but it’s safe to say that if a VPN is illegal in a country like China, it’s best to avoid using it. Some have argued that if your ExpressVPN “source” country is legal, you’re fine.

The problem is that you may not know for sure. If the VPN is blocked in a country you are visiting, you are better off using the free and open internet available. The reason is that the ISP you are connecting to knows your IP address at all times and can see the bandwidth you are using.

If you download dozens of torrents in one day, it will create a red flag. Your ISP may not know that you are using a VPN, but they can certainly tell you that you are downloading many files.

The interesting problem here is that the actual customer is not the problem. Installing the client on your laptop or phone may not be illegal, actual encryption and usage may be the problem.

Again, laws vary by country and it is difficult to predict what is legal or not. If there is a VPN ban, it will be safer to uninstall and not use the client.

What are you moving

Aside from any ban on VPN use, another issue to consider is whether you are transferring illegal files, visiting illegal websites, or engaging in illegal online activity. Regarding the legality of using ExpressVPN, this is where things get a bit tricky.

Part of using an app is not illegal if it’s okay to use a VPN in the first place (such as using an app in the US). If you’re streaming illegal movies with a VPN, it’s still illegal – it doesn’t matter if you’re protected or not.

You may think that there are cases where this is not true – what if you are not caught while sending? What if you think you might have the legal right to download torrent files for Hollywood movies in principle? What if you’ve read online that it’s legal to transfer files in some cases, such as if you own a DVD at home? None of that matters.

What matters is whether the transmission itself is illegal. Back to the car example. If you use ExpressVPN to download illegal software, for example, and the car (in this case, the VPN) is just the car you’re using – your load in the car is the problem.

That’s why ExpressVPN probably won’t be held responsible for illegal transfers – downloading and sending is a problem for authorities and copyright holders.

The apps you use

However, one final note about the apps you use. ExpressVPN protects your internet traffic and downloads. It is safe to use in legal activity. Owning and operating it on your laptop is not illegal. If you visit a foreign country, it’s probably not illegal to install it.

This is the good news. If you are at all concerned that running a VPN may be illegal, it is best to remove it and not use it. If you tend to download illegal software or movies or engage in criminal behavior online in the hopes that a VPN client can protect you, it is best not to use the app.

There are many legal issues involved, and if the copyright holder or the authorities decide to bring charges or investigate you, there may be no defense.

Although ExpressVPN is completely legal, using it for illegal activity may only lead to problems in the end. This is somewhat similar to how companies that distribute links to copyrighted material have come under fire in recent years.

It is a valid argument that they do not transmit links or keep any material on the server. However – they seem to have been constant targets of threats and legal charges, and many of them don’t last long.

It’s better to stay legal – with a legal VPN – than to risk anything that could be considered illegal, despite how you feel about the software you’re using and what you’re doing online.

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