We often turn on or connect to VPN servers through our phones or laptops, but do we ever think it is legal to use or not? It will be surprising to know that VPN use is banned or restricted in several countries or considered illegal. Yes, countries like China, North Korea, U.A.E, etc., either regulate or impose an outright ban on VPN usage.
Are VPNs Legal?
However, other countries allow their people to use VPNs freely, while some allow it with restrictions. But why is there so much difference in its legality use? Is VPN use legal or illegal? Let's discuss that in brief below.
What Is a VPN?
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a service that helps maintain your online privacy. A VPN creates a private tunnel for your data and conversations while you utilize public networks, establishing a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and the internet.
VPNs were once cutting-edge technological innovations, but they are now essential utilities. VPNs safeguard your online privacy at the most fundamental level, preventing location-based targeting and discrimination.
Is VPN Safe To Use?
VPN services provide an additional layer of security to your online browsing by transmitting your data through an encryption tunnel to keep it private.
Regardless of how or why you access the Internet, there's a high chance you want to prevent outsiders from looking at your personal or commercial data, especially if they're using it for criminal reasons. There are several reasons to consider investing in a high-quality VPN service, including protecting against data breaches or businesses selling your data.
There are several good reasons to set up a VPN service, including but not limited to the following:
- Avoiding unauthorized access to the theft of your data by hackers.
- Avoiding having your information misused by sites like Facebook by arming yourself with crucial knowledge that the government might otherwise block.
- Preventing businesses from selling your data to other parties.
How Is VPN Legal in Most Countries?
Most countries have completely legalized VPN use, and some countries, like India, have no negative say on VPNs. As the majority of the world has a yes for VPN, it can be stated that there is no illegality in using VPN. But before making further statements, let's learn about the different types of VPNs and their corresponding legalities.
Two kinds of VPN are used worldwide: 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 the 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 help users cross geo-restrictions. This policy of privacy using VPNs are considered valid and legal. Similarly, crossing geo-restrictions isn't illegal 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 VPNs.
Yes, if we look at the stance on VPNs, different countries have different opinions. Some countries have accepted the use of VPNs, 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 services, or a few have implemented internet censorship laws, making VPNs very risky.
Those governments implementing internet censorship laws can impose fines on users and VPN service providers who violate 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:
1. Illegal File-Sharing
VPNs are mostly used to share files or applications protected by copyright or someone who holds ownership. If these files are shared without ownership or permission from the owner, this practice is illegal. This is 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.
3. Restricted Materials
The government bans certain websites or restricts their use for the betterment of its citizens or the nation's cybersecurity. This means the restricted sites or materials are illegal to use within the country, for example, surfing pornography sites or torrent websites.
4. Cyber Stalking
Taking the cover of a VPN to hide the identity isn't a good practice, and 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?
Are VPNs illegal? Keeping the illegal practices in mind, some countries have come forward in opposition to VPNs. Hence, below, we have listed some countries that have stated VPN as illegal and imposed a ban on its use.
The Chinese government banned several global applications and websites, like Facebook and Google, within its territories. But, using a VPN, a person can easily access banned apps and websites. Hence, to avoid that, the government has declared VPNs illegal.
Still, a few VPN networks work within the country with permission from the government, but these VPNs are mainly for business purposes. As VPN services are strictly monitored in China, it is nearly impossible for any VPN service provider to operate within the province.
Surprisingly, Russia has completely banned 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. Service providers will only be able to serve within the country.
The government has raised criticism over giving digital freedom within the country, which means it has increased its control over the citizens' Internet activities. Those VPN service providers within the country were asked to blacklist a few websites, which resulted in a few VPN service providers ceasing their services in Russia.
Different countries have reasons for imposing a ban on VPN use, as Belarus has. Belarus's government has decided to end the trend of spreading '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 internet anonymizers, including 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.
4. North Korea
The VPN services ban in North Korea isn't that surprising, as only a few 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 VPN services to control the country's media. 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 still needs a very impressive human rights record, but with the presidential government in the act, there is still no chance of lifting the ban on VPN services.
As we said above, every country has its reasons to ban VPNs. 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 imposed a ban on VPN services 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 VPNs that, resulted in some people still taking the services of VPN.
Iraq has put a complete ban on VPN services as its defensive strategy. While fighting the war against ISIS in the country, the government has imposed a halt on internet services, including VPN services.
But, as time changed and the clouds of threat from ISIS vanished in the country, there was 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 legal laws are enforced against 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 by broadening their control over media channels in the country.
Hence, in 2018, the government declared the usage of VPN services within the country illegal, and those using these services must face legal action.
The UAE has banned VPNs from restricting its citizens from using illegal content or blocking apps and sites. For example, using 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 offense or fined 500,000 Durham. Hence, we can conclude that the UAE has yet to impose a full ban, yet the VPN services are tightly operated in the country.
According to 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 world uses SSL. Hence, anyone using VPN services in Oman must face legal action for breaking law and order.
The fate of VPN Services In the Rest of the Countries:
Apart from a few countries in the world, other countries don't have much to say about the legality of VPNs and have allowed their population to benefit from 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 data in India has surged in the last few years. Around 45% of internet users in the country use at least VPN services once every month.
- In the USA, citizens are not restricted to the use of VPNs. Moreover, the use of VPN is legalized in the state. But, the government has previously taken over the user data from VPN service providers. Users are asked to read the terms and conditions before signing up with any VPN service provider.
- Japan is a highly developed country globally and believes in legal VPN services. But, there are still a few internet restrictions imposed by the Japanese government, meaning the VPN can only be used for purposes other than restricted.
- 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 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 legalized VPN services for its citizens. But, here also, the users must be aware of the jurisdiction policies, as Germany is a part of the 14-eye alliance.
No such strong statement 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I get in trouble for using a VPN?
Using a VPN is legal. However, using one while engaging in any activity, even slightly related to terrorism or criminal activity, is illegal since those actions are prohibited by law. This might involve cyberstalking, unauthorized computer or network hacking, and downloading and reselling protected content.
2. Is using VPN illegal in Australia?
No, 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.
3. Can Google track me if I use VPN?
Google can track your online actions if you browse the web while signing into your Google account. Although it may appear that you are visiting websites from a different country because a VPN changes your virtual location, Google will still be able to identify you. Check How To Permanently Delete Your Data From Google.
4. Is using a VPN to watch Netflix illegal?
While it is not illegal, it is against many service policies, including Netflix's, to use a VPN to access services in another country. Netflix sends warnings, but other streaming providers have begun to take more drastic measures.
Wanna learn more about VPNs? Read these blogs now!
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- OpenVPN, Learn what and how it does it
- History of the VPN, How It Started & How It Continues To Develop
Do you value your privacy online?
Use VPN Surf and surf safely and securely in the open waters of the internet.