Everything You Need To Know About Using VPNs Legally

Is It Legal To Use A VPN?

VPNs, or virtual private networks, have grown in popularity in recent years due to increased awareness about data protection and cybersecurity. With a VPN, you can maintain your privacy, bypass geographic restrictions on online content, and lots more.

For first-time VPN users, one common question raised has to do with the legality of VPNs. Though VPNs are legal in most countries, they are banned or restricted in some countries.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that while the use of VPNs may be legal in the country you’re in, using them to commit illegal activities are not lawful. Such acts include downloading and selling torrent content or information, hacking into computers or networks, and selling contraband. If you don’t know which VPN to use yet, choose between these two great VPNs.

What VPNs Are Used For

 VPNs are widely used by people and organizations looking for an extra layer of internet privacy protection. Here are some main reasons why people use a VPN and features that make it useful.

To Use Public Wi-FI Privately And Securely

Public Wi-Fi providers usually don’t encrypt their internet networks. This means hackers can easily tap into your cyber browsing, passwords, and other personal information. Using a VPN is one of the most secure and robust methods to protect your device while using public Wi-Fi. It sends your traffic through an encrypted ‘tunnel’, making it difficult for hackers to decipher or intercept.

To Bypass Geo-blocks and Geographical Restrictions

Geo-blocks or geographical restrictions are commonly used by various regional websites and streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. With some VPNs, users can bypass these restrictions. For example, if you are in Singapore and want to stream a movie available only on US Netflix, you can download a VPN and connect to a server in the US. The VPN server will generate a unique IP address for you such that it reflects that you’re accessing Netflix from the US. Do keep in mind that using a VPN may go against some services’ Terms of Use so make sure to read them carefully before using a VPN to access such websites.

To Bypass Government Surveillance

Government surveillance programs have become a hot issue among netizens who value their privacy. If you belong to this group, you can use a VPN to browse the web practically anonymously and avoid snoopers. VPNs encrypt your data and mask your location, meaning that government organizations won’t be able to track your online activity.

Where Is It Illegal To Use VPNs

Many people choose to use VPNs because they provide online privacy and security. Most VPN services offer online privacy by preventing advertisers and other third parties from collecting your personal information. If the VPN you use has a no-log policy, the VPN provider won’t be able to track and record your online activities. In addition, such policies are implemented so that governments won’t be able to access your online information even if they ask your VPN provider for it.

But, most VPN providers end up having to comply with law enforcement authorities regardless of the policies that have been implemented. As such, many VPN companies choose to set their business up in countries that have lax laws regarding data retention.

Whether a VPN is legal to use differs from country to country. For easy reference, we’ve compiled a list of countries that have banned or restricted the use of VPNs:

1.    China

Though the use of VPNs isn’t illegal in China, they are still tightly regulated. For those not in the know, China has banned many international websites from being accessed within the country’s borders, with more being added to the government blacklist each passing year. Examples of such websites include Facebook and Google. Since using VPNs essentially renders these bans void, China has greatly restricted the number of VPN providers that can operate in China.

2.    UAE

Like China, it isn’t illegal to use a VPN in the UAE. But, the government has imposed strict fines on anyone caught using VPNs. If caught, a person can be fined 500,000 dirhams, which is approximately equal to around 136,00 USD. The government justified this by claiming that the fines protect telecommunication companies as VPNs eat into their profits.

3.    Turkey

VPNs are legal in Turkey but the country blocks thousands of sites and platforms ranging from social media channels to cloud storage platforms. This move is part of sweeping censorship laws aimed at severely restricting access to selected information and platforms.

4.    Russia

VPNs are illegal in Russia. Russia’s enactment of a VPN-banning law in the country in 2017 stirred up criticism about the erosion of digital freedoms in the country.  The law has been criticized as one of many moves to tighten the government’s control over internet access.

5.    Belarus

In 2016, Belarus banned all use of internet anonymizers, including VPNs, proxies, and Tor, which has a similar function of scrambling a user’s internet traffic by using a global network composed of volunteer nodes.

6.    Iraq

What with the situation with ISIS in the region, Iraq made use of internet restrictions and bans to curb terrorist activity. These restrictions included a ban on the use of VPNs.

7.    Oman

In Oman, any form of encryption in communications is illegal. The government regularly blocks and restrictions online content and forbids the use of VPNs.

8.    North Korea

The ban on VPNs in North Korea is probably not a surprise to anyone. In 2017, the totalitarian country earned the dubious honor of getting last place in the yearly Press Freedom Index, which is published by the non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders.

Conclusion

In most cases, bans on VPNs arise from governmental desires to control and restrict citizens’ access to online content. Ban or restrictions on the use of VPNs aren’t as important as the motivation behind them. Free and secure internet is in every citizen’s interest. Unfortunately, for some, their governments don’t share the same views.

In closing, one point to remember before you travel abroad or download a VPN to use in your home country is to check to see whether or not using VPNs is legal. Furthermore, though VPNs may be legal to use in your country, this doesn’t give you the green light to carry out any illegal online activities.

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