Every country has different laws about VPNs. So are VPNs legal or illegal?
The short answer is – yes it is legal to use the VPN as it’s your privacy tool. But you should not engage in illegal activities using VPNs.
Check out this article to learn about VPN laws in different countries.
The Virtual Private Network, also commonly known as VPN, is a privacy tool used by millions across the globe. They are mainly used to mask traffic by making it appear as if your IP address is located somewhere else than where it is based. People usually do this to securely transfer files online, hide their browsing activity, or bypass location restrictions.
Suffice it to say, VPN is an invaluable tool. However, most people often deal with the question–Is using a VPN illegal? even before they can decide which VPN provider to choose.
Now this question might baffle those who enjoy the privilege of leaving in advanced democracies like the UK, US, and Canada.
However, you’ll be equally surprised to learn how frequently this question comes up in online forums, Google search queries, and other community platforms. The answer surrounding VPN’s legality varies from country to country.
What You Will Learn:
- Are VPNs Legal or Illegal? Know VPN Laws
- Understanding Why VPNs Are Illegal
- How to Bypass VPN Blocks
- How to Choose a Safe VPN
- What Makes NordVPN Perfect
- Frequently Asked Questions About VPN
Are VPNs Legal or Illegal? Know VPN Laws
Many countries, especially those that can be deemed authoritarian or politically repressed in nature, have cracked down hard on the use of VPN technology ever since its inception.
Countries like Russia and China, for instance, can saddle you with heavy fines or even go as far as to throw you in prison for violating their VPN laws.
If you are someone who plans to travel abroad and is a huge fan of internet privacy, then obviously you would want to know whether the country you are moving to will respect your boundaries.
To make your life a tad bit easier, you can refer to the following list that mentions all countries that completely restrict VPN use or have imposed a partial ban on them.
Countries Where VPN Use is Partially or Completely Illegal
Iraq banned the use of VPNs not so long ago. They claimed it was done to have a better chance of stopping and tracking ISIS (a militant Islamist group active in the region). The intentions of the government here may seem noble. However, it cannot be denied that this decision has cost Iraqi citizens their right to privacy and internet anonymity.
You can use a VPN in Turkey without inviting any legal repercussions. However, the country has blocked certain websites. These also include sites belonging to major VPN service providers.
Oman is infamous for completely controlling its media. It routinely bans or censors content on the internet and has declared VPNs illegal to further police what type of content its citizens watch.
Are VPNs legal in Russia? You can’t say that there is a blanket ban on VPNs in Russia. However, the country has blocked multiple VPN service providers and has continued to do so since 2019. Russia will particularly ban the URLs of those VPN service providers that provide access to content that comes under Russia’s ‘reject list.
Both Tor (The Onion Router) and VPN services are completely banned in Belarus. Local internet service providers are also required to, without fail, check a list of banned services that are published daily by the agency.
Iran doesn’t have an explicit ban on VPNs. However, you can only use VPN services that the government has officially licensed. This completely defeats the purpose of a VPN anyways. The people of Iran will be better off using no VPN than using one that is covered in the imprints of its authoritarian regime.
The ban on VPNs in the UAE is for commercial reasons rather than purely political. The ban was imposed to dissuade the use of VOIP services that undercut the profits of UAE’s telecommunication companies. People caught using VPN can face a fine that can go as high as £412,240.
Are VPNs Legal in China? China is notorious when it comes to censorship. So, of course, using a VPN is illegal here. Most VPN sites are banned in the country.
However, some VPN sites can operate if they obtain a government license. Then again, can you really trust a VPN service that is in cahoots with the communist Chinese government to value your privacy?
While this is in no way a complete list of countries where VPNs are banned, these are still some of the most prominent totalitarian regimes in the world that impose such restrictions. Also worth noting is the fact that these laws are known to constantly change. We would recommend checking with the concerned country’s latest guidelines regarding VPN use.
Again, VPN isn’t exactly illegal here. However, you cannot use VPN to access anti-government content or use VOIP apps.
Venezuela has also blocked a variety of VPN sites. However, it hasn’t explicitly declared VPNs illegal.
VPNs aren’t illegal in Uganda. However, recently their use is being restricted to prevent people from circumventing the social media tax.
Are VPNs Legal in Vietnam? Yes, they are. However, you can get in trouble for using it to access restricted or censored content. Otherwise, you won’t be bothered by simply holding a VPN subscription.
Countries with Strict to Moderately Restrictive VPN Laws
You can refer to the following table that perfectly explains the severity of VPN laws across countries around the world.
|Country||VPN Use||Social Media Blocks||Surveillance||Censorship|
A recent stat found that almost 33% of all internet users worldwide used VPNs regularly. Almost 47% of them used a VPN when traveling abroad. A good majority of VPN users (70%) were found to be male.
Understanding Why VPNs Are Illegal
Is VPN legal?
To answer this question you need to first understand that VPN in itself isn’t illegal at all. In fact, VPN is perfectly legal to use in a majority of countries around the world where freedom of expression is celebrated as a constitutional right. There are, however, certain circumstances where the use of VPN is considered illegal even in democratic nations.
This mostly depends on the purpose for which a specific user is using the tool. So the answer to the question – Are VPNs Legal in the UK, US, or Canada? Would be yes! However, this comes with a caveat.
A democratic state may consider VPN use illegal if the user engages in any of the following activities:
- Accessing banned content such as pornography.
- Pirating films and music.
- Contact organizations that have been blacklisted as security threats by the government.
If you aren’t doing any of the above stuff, then you’ll face no issues using a VPN to surf the internet in total anonymity.
Coming back to the subject of Authoritarian countries, VPN use is declared illegal here by the government for all the wrong reasons.
Countries like China, Russia, and Iran ban VPNs to:
- Spy on their citizen’s online browser activity.
- Prevent citizens from accessing news or reports that might be critical of the regime in power.
- Keep the population subjugated and misinformed.
Is it Safe to Use VPN in Restrictive Areas
In hindsight, we would recommend not to risk using a VPN in restrictive areas, as the punishment that you can face simply isn’t worth it.
However, if you still wish to use VPN safely, then we recommend that you opt for a VPN service provider that comes loaded with features that allow you to bypass VPN blocks set up by the governing forces in the concerned region.
How to Bypass VPN Blocks
Below is a list of features you’ll need to bypass VPN blocks to remain safe, even in restrictive regions of the world:
#1) Double VPN: This feature will arm you with an extra layer of security and encryption that perfectly cloaks your browser activity.
#2) Obfuscated Server: This function will hide all your VPN metadata and constantly change your data packets, thus effectively hiding the fact that you are using a VPN from snooping entities.
#3) Kill Switch: This feature automatically disconnects you from the internet as soon as the VPN server malfunctions, thus protecting you from accidentally getting exposed.
#4) Multiple Servers: A VPN service with multiple servers means you will have access to an alternative server ready in case the server you are using malfunctions or overloads.
How to Choose a Safe VPN
Suggested Reading =>> List of top Safe VPNs
One should feel blessed to have been born in a country that affords its people certain fundamental rights, the most prominent of them being the right to privacy. That being said, it is always wise to tread lightly and approach any VPN provider with a healthy dose of skepticism.
While most VPN services provide you with that extra level of necessary security, they fail to ensure complete online anonymity.
In 2013, Edward Snowden basically exposed the US government for spying on its own people. Suffice to say, you can never be too careful. Being careful is mandatory when you choose a VPN provider. Many VPN services are guilty of keeping logs of your online activity.
Some VPN companies have even been exposed in the past for sharing their user info with the government. To make sure you aren’t being duped by your chosen VPN service provider, we recommend checking the software for the below crucial features before buying.
#1) Double VPN and Onion Over VPN
Both Double VPN and Onion Over VPN are considered to be effective features that deliver that much-needed extra security. Double VPN basically refers to establishing a connection via two VPN servers. This adds an additional layer of encryption to your data, making it very hard to read. On the downside, Double VPN does affect your browsing speed.
Onion over VPN refers to a system that blends the unique features of Tor with a VPN. Onion Over VPN also suffers from the same issue that plagues Double VPN. You are getting extra security but at the cost of speed.
#2) No Logs
Think of the No-Logs policy as a written promise made by the VPN service provider stating that it will never store or log your data. Granted, there is no way of knowing whether a VPN company will keep this promise.
In our experience, we’ve encountered a few providers that do pride themselves in offering users this privilege. We recommend choosing a provider that explicitly mentions this in their sales pitch and has been audited for the same.
#3) Leak Protection
Leak Protection is a common feature provided by VPN providers in many forms. The most common examples that we can recall are WebRTC leak protection, DNS leak protection, and IPv6 leak protection.
This feature is basically present in most VPN tools as a toggle. Information leaks can occur due to a sudden VPN server malfunction. With such protection, that can be avoided.
To check if there is an IP or DNS leak, you can go to IPv6-test.com and dsleaktest.com. Make sure the VPN is on when testing is taking place.
#4) Kill Switch
Kill Switch is another great feature that is widely offered today by most VPN tools. This switch is automatically triggered to immediately cut off your internet connection in the event of a VPN malfunction, thus preventing leaks and making sure your VPN connection is always secure.
#5) Obfuscated Servers
Obfuscated Servers are a type of specialized server that hides information that your rerouting traffic using a VPN. The best part about this feature is the fact that it allows users to establish a VPN connection even in a highly restrictive environment.
This is a great feature, especially for those who travel a lot and frequently visit countries known for their stance against VPNs.
#6) 24/7 Customer Support
Customer Support is a feature we recommend that you do not compromise on. Pick a tool that offers support 24/7 in a convenient fashion, preferably live chat. Direct phone and email support will also work, provided the response time is fast. Also, look for VPN tools that facilitate self-help by having some knowledge base or FAQ present on their official site.
Finding a VPN service that encompasses all of these features can initially seem daunting. Fortunately, we know of just the perfect tool that not only excels in its functionality but is also globally celebrated as the most trusted VPN service out there for individuals and businesses alike. This is of course about the one and only NordVPN.
What Makes NordVPN Perfect
NordVPN has been around for almost a decade now. During that time, it has won a lot of hearts with its commitment to privacy and user convenience. NordVPN is one of those VPN providers that offer specialty servers that add an extra layer of security to your connection.
NordVPN strengthens Internet Security with features like:
- Onion Over VPN
- Double VPN
- Obfuscated Server
It further excels with regards to its security features by coming pre-equipped with a kill switch that instantly blocks the internet connection when the VPN server malfunctions. You will secure 6 devices with a single NordVPN account.
Furthermore, the software is compatible with almost all major operating systems. This includes macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, etc. VPN also comes in the form of a browser extension for both Chrome and Firefox.
Over 5200 high-speed servers are located across 60 different countries that power it. As such, you have a plethora of options to choose from if you need a faster server. The NordVPN app can also automatically switch servers to connect with only the fastest of the bunch in a selected country.
The software is also very user-friendly. Documentation, FAQs, video tutorials, etc. contain valuable instructions on servers, protocols, and user guidelines, all of which are easy to understand. If self-help isn’t your cup of tea, then you can always turn to their customer support team who can be reached via live chat, phone, or email 24/7 for help.
The software is constantly updating itself every few months with crucial security updates to deliver only the best experience to its users. To cap this topic off, NordVPN also happens to be a twice audited no-logs service. You can rest assured that your online activity will remain confidential.
Needless to say, I cannot recommend NordVPN enough. It is safe, feature-rich, and simple to use.
Click here to visit NordVPN Website now to buy or learn more about the service.
Frequently Asked Questions About VPN
Q #1) Is Using a VPN Legal in the US?
Answer: Not at all. The USA is a democracy that prides itself on respecting people’s right to privacy. As such, you are free to use VPN in the country as long as you aren’t using it to commit a crime or partake in a host of activities that are considered to be illegal by the state. So the answer to the question is – Are VPNs legal in the US? is yes!
Q #2) Why will someone in the US use VPN?
Answer: There are many legitimate reasons why someone would use VPN in the US.
They can use it to:
- Mask their online activity from ISPs
- Avoid bandwidth throttling
- Access geo-blocked services
- Prevent data throttling
Q #3) Are VPNs Safe to use?
Answer: The answer to this depends on certain factors.
VPNs aren’t safe to use if:
- Your country or region has explicitly banned its use.
- You live in a country with extensive censorship and surveillance.
- VPN keeps records of your activity.
- The VPN is free and doesn’t enjoy a good reputation in the market.
We would recommend you only use a VPN that is reliable and popular like NordVPN, which adheres to a strict no-log policy.
Q #4) Can you be hacked using a VPN?
Answer: Cybercriminals can easily hack a VPN with sub-par security protocols in place. They can easily do so with the help of powerful ransomware or spyware. Once hacked, it compromises everything from personal information to traffic. You can prevent such a situation by using a stronger VPN.
Q #5) Can the Police track your VPN?
Answer: Police cannot track traffic that your VPN has encrypted. However, they can request a court order that allows them to request usage logs. Your ISP is the one who knows that you’re using a VPN and they can point the police to your VPN provider, who in turn may have to comply with the court order.
You are safe, however, if your VPN provider isn’t keeping logs of your internet activity.
Q #6) Are VPNs Legal for Netflix?
Answer: At the time of writing this article, there were no laws dictated by the US government or Netflix itself that explicitly claim VPNs are illegal to access content on the streaming platform. Most people use VPNs on Netflix to access content that is otherwise geo-restricted to them.
Today, as the internet continues to transcend borders, VPNs have become integral tools, trying to uphold the right to privacy even with the meandering threat of surveillance and censorship looms large. You are blessed if you reside in a country that abides by liberal laws and respects the individual privacy of its citizens.
Countries like the US, UK, and Canada put little to no restrictions on your use of VPN. As such, you are perfectly free and safe to use here. However, there are countries that do not follow this principle.
Authoritarian countries like China, Russia, and Iran have cracked down hard on VPN use. People using VPNs in such regions face the risk of hefty fines and even long prison sentences.
Therefore, we recommend learning about the safety of VPN use, especially if you are someone who travels internationally a lot. This article helps you stay safe and cautious with regard to the use of this technology.
We look forward to an ideal world where individual freedoms are respected by everyone, especially those in positions of power. Until then, be privy to relevant VPN laws and use only reputable VPNs like Nord to stay safe.