We often turn on or connect to VPN servers through our phones or laptops, but do we ever think that it is legal to use or not? It will be surprising to know that VPN use is completely banned or restricted in several countries or considered illegal. Yes, countries like China, North Korea, U.A.E, etc., either regulate or impose outright ban on VPN usage.
However, other countries do allow their people to use VPN freely, while some allow it with restrictions. But why is there so much difference in its legality to use? Is VPN use legal or illegal? Let's discuss that in brief below.
How Is VPN Legal in Most Countries?
Most countries have completely legalized the use of VPN, and some countries like India have no negative say on VPN. As the majority of the world has a yes for VPN, it can be stated that there is no illegality in the use of VPN. But, before making further statements, let's learn about the different types of VPNs along with the corresponding legalities to use them.
Two kinds of VPN are used worldwide, namely Business VPN, and Commercial VPN.
Among these two, Business VPNs are widely used worldwide, and it is legal to use them. This type of VPN helps create a tunnel between the client and business intranet, which helps access the confidential files of a business safely.
Commercial VPNs are the ones that have faced a ban by the governments, but the Western parts of the globe have legalized their use. They keep the online data, and IP addresses private and also help users to cross geo-restrictions. This policy of privacy using VPNs is considered valid and legal. Similarly, crossing geo-restrictions isn't an illegal act as content creators impose it to monetize their content.
Note: Using a VPN for illegal means or violating the government's laws can be found illegal, where the user will be guilty, not the VPN service provider.
Why Is VPN Considered Illegal In Some Countries?
VPN helps create a private network using a public internet connection. It uses a completely different IP address each time you connect to the internet using a VPN. This way, your online activity will not be traceable. In short, a VPN keeps the data and searches private, and no one can keep an eye on that. Even after such impeccable usage, some countries restrict their people from using VPNs.
Yes, if we look at the stance of VPN, then different countries have different opinions. Some countries have accepted the use of VPN, while some have conditionally accepted, but some countries have completely banned or imposed strict laws on the use of VPNs. So, here the question that strikes is that if VPN is helpful in various ways, why does the government impose a ban on VPN?
A few governments are against the concept of keeping the data and details of users private. While a few have wanted to keep an eye on their citizen's online activity to control. Hence, for these reasons, governments have imposed bans on VPN, or a few have implemented internet censorship laws, which makes the use of VPN very risky.
Those governments who have implemented the internet censorship laws can impose fines on the user and VPN service provider who violates the law.
Illegal Practices Using A Vpn:
There are certain things that users can do using a VPN network that are considered illegal and force the government to ban VPN use. Some of these illegal actions of users are listed below:
VPNs are mostly used to share files or applications protected by copyright or someone who holds the ownership. If these files are shared without ownership or permission from the owner, this practice is illegal. This is the reason why pirating videos, music, or software is considered illegal.
We have learned that VPN saves users from hackers, but how can it be used for hacking purposes? Hackers mostly use a VPN network to hide their identity while hacking digital platforms, services, or devices. Hacking is an illegal practice. Whether done using a VPN or without a VPN, it doesn't matter.
For the betterment of its citizens or the cybersecurity of the nation, the government bans certain websites or restricts the use. This means the restricted sites or materials are illegal to use within the country, for example, surfing pornography sites or torrent websites.
Taking the cover of a VPN to hide the identity isn't a good practice, or if this is done for cyberstalking, then it's completely illegal. Anyone who harasses or stalks someone using the VPN network should be considered a cybercriminal.
Which Countries Have Banned VPN Usage?
Keeping the illegal practices in mind, some of the countries have come forward in opposition to VPN. Hence, below we have listed some countries that have stated VPN to be illegal and have imposed a ban on its use.
The Chinese government has banned several global applications and websites within its territory like Facebook and Google. But, using a VPN, a person can easily access the banned apps and websites. Hence, to avoid that, the government has declared the use of VPN illegal.
Still, a few VPN networks work within the country with permission from the government, but these VPNs are mainly for business purposes. As the VPN services are strictly monitored in China, it is nearly impossible for any VPN service provider to operate within the province.
It will be surprising that Russia has imposed a complete ban on VPN services within the country. In November 2017, the government of Russia implemented a few laws that state that VPN use within the country is completely illegal. No service provider will be able to serve within the country.
The government has raised criticism over giving digital freedom within the country, which means the government has increased its control over the citizens' Internet activities. Those VPN service providers within the country are asked to blacklist a few websites, which resulted in a few VPN service providers ceasing their services in Russia.
Different countries have their reasons to impose a ban on VPN use, like Belarus has one. Belarus government has decided to end the trend to spread 'fake news' by using the internet. This means the digital freedom of Belarus citizens has been snatched. Finally, in 2016, the government declared to ban all the internet anonymizers that included VPN networks, proxies, and Tors.
With time these strict regulations on digital freedom got worse than before. The government has started removing all the possibilities to access and blocking the citizens' freedom of speech too.
VPN services ban in North Korea isn't that surprising, as there is nothing many privileges are given to the citizens of North Korea except the right to work and revere their leader. In a country where citizens have rare internet access and cell phone services, the legality of VPN services doesn't matter. But, some reports state that people can only use VPNs and Tor to sharpen their skills.
The Turkmenistan government has also felt a need to ban the VPN services within the country to control the media in the country. There is no space left for the outside media, as they rely more on domestic media outlets.
Even though there is some space for domestic media, they are strictly regulated too by the government, so VPN services have seen a ban in the country. The country does not have a very impressive human rights record, but with the presidential government in the act, there is still no chance of lifting the ban over VPN services.
As we said above, every country has its reasons to ban VPN. Uganda has a strange reason to impose the ban, as the country's taxpayers have started using VPN services to get rid of paying taxes to the government. Hence, in 2018, the Ugandan government decided to impose a ban on VPN services within the country and instructed all Internet Service Providers to block VPN users.
But, with a lack of technology, Uganda was only able to put a partial ban on VPN that resulted in some people still taking the services of VPN.
Iraq has put a complete ban on VPN services as their defensive strategy. While fighting the war with ISIS in the country, the government has imposed a halt on internet services that included VPN services.
But, as time changed and the clouds of threat from ISIS vanished in the country, there is still no chance of getting the VPN services back in action, as the region has some conflicting laws for its citizens. Moreover, censorship is another strong topic in Iraq, and there are legal laws enforced for those who do not self-censor.
In the last 12 years, the ruling government of Turkey has blocked several websites, social media sites, cloud storage platforms, etc. These blocks were done in the view of broadening their control over media channels in the country.
Hence, in 2018, the government declared the usage of VPN services within the country to be illegal, and those who will be found using these services have to face legal actions.
UAE has imposed a ban on VPN to restrict its citizens from using illegal content or banned apps and sites. For example, the use of WhatsApp and Skype is not allowed in the UAE. Hence this can only be used by taking help from VPN services.
So, UAE has enforced laws that state anyone who uses a VPN network will be prosecuted under criminal offence or fined 500,000 Durham. Hence, we can conclude that the UAE has not imposed a full ban, yet the VPN services are tightly operated in the country.
As per the Oman government, any apps or websites that encrypt user data are illegal. Or those websites which use SSL are illegal to use within the country. This means the citizens of Oman have access to a limited number of websites, as most of the websites in the world use SSL. Hence, anyone using VPN services in Oman will have to face legal actions for breaking law and order.
The fate of Vpn Services In Rest of the Countries:
Apart from a few countries in the world, other countries don't have much to say on the legality of VPN and have allowed their population to take the benefit of VPN services.
- In India, the government has no such rules to restrict VPN use, but the government is yet to declare it completely legal. However, the use of VPN services has seen a surge in the last few years. Around 45% of the internet users in the country at least use VPN services once every month.
- In the USA, the citizens are not restricted to the use of VPN. Moreover, the use of VPN is legalized in the state. But, the government has taken over the user data from VPN service providers in the past. This is why users are asked to read the terms and conditions before signing up with any VPN service providers.
- Japan is a highly developed country globally and has stated its opinion on VPN services to be legal. But, there are still a few internet restrictions imposed by the Japanese government, which means the VPN can only be used for purposes other than restricted things.
- The citizens of Australia are free to use VPN services, and it has been declared legal to use VPN services within the country. Moreover, Australia stands as a key location for several VPN service providers all over the world.
- UK citizens are free to use VPN services, but they should be aware of the jurisdiction laws. As we all know, the UK is a part of the five eyes alliance, which means the UK government has to carry out and share digital information with others part of the alliance.
- Germany, another fully developed and modernized country, has also legalized VPN services for its citizens. But, here also, the users have to be aware of the jurisdiction policies, as Germany is a part of the 14 eye alliance.
There is no such strong statement that can say that VPN services are legal. But, if the service is used legally without breaking any law, then no law can put charges on users, except in a few countries where VPN services are completely or partially banned. Modern-day giants like the USA, UK, India, and others have favored VPN services. If you belong to any of these countries, you can sign up for VPN Surf services to get optimum security, high-end technical support, and others at an affordable price. Stay connected for more information.
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