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Are VPNs Legal? Check Your Country Before Purchasing One

Trendy isometric 3d illustration of vpn security software for computers and smartphonesWARNING: The information found on this page is not a piece of legal advice. It’s based on research and may be dated. Please get in touch with an attorney if you have legal questions regarding the use of VPNs.

We know that VPNs are great as they allow you to enjoy blocked content, protect your privacy and some have a feature to block enduring ads. They work by disguising your IP addresses so that the government, third-party organizations, and even your internet service provider cannot keep an eye on your activities.

Since the use of VPN hides who you are or what you are up to, there’s always the question of it being legal. But why are so many people using it if it’s illegal? We’ll answer all these questions in this article.

What is VPN? 

A VPN encrypts data and creates a private tunnel between an online server and your device and transmits all your data through this tunnel so that intelligence agencies and hackers cannot reach it. You might have already heard about some of the most popular ones: IPVanish, PIA, Surfshark, NordVPN, and many others. 

Back in the day, the VPN technology was used by businesses to ensure the safety of networks so that private data could be kept safe and secure. However, VPNs are now used by all kinds of users, including individuals who want to stream geo-blocked content and keep their identity safe. 

Benefits of using VPNs

Security encrypted connection. Anonymous internet using

People use VPNs for a variety of reasons as they offer a bunch of benefits. Here are some of the main advantages of using VPNs:

  • More Privacy: It’s all about privacy on the internet. We know how common hackers are. Other than this, there is also the risk of government organizations and other firms keeping an eye on what you do. A VPN masks your IP, which changes your geographical location and makes it nearly impossible to track the real you. It will not be wrong to say that it leaves no traces. Plus, most reliable VPNs also have a strict no-logs policy. They do not keep a record of what users do. Hence there is little to no risk of government agencies requesting the company to provide your data. It can, however, be an issue in some countries due to prevailing laws and regulations. Hence it is essential to pick a VPN that’s registered in a country where the law cannot force a VPN provider to share personal details about a user.
  • Better Streaming: This may come as a surprise to some but ISPs often slow down streaming deliberately to keep the servers free. VPNs can hide your activities from your ISP provider, allowing you to get the maximum possible speed. That is why streaming often works better on a VPN.
  • Access Locked Content: Netflix and other such service providers often provide content based on where you are. According to reports, Netflix US has the most number of movies and shows to stream. If you want to watch them all, you will either have to move to the US or change your location to the US with the help of a VPN. But, how to watch Netflix with VPN and is it illegal to use a VPN for Netflix? Not really, but there may be some issues. We’ll discuss some later in this article.
  • Save Money: VPN is an investment, but it’s one that can help you save money. First, you can change your IP with a VPN, and enjoy more free trials. Secondly, some companies offer different rates for the same service in different countries. You can save money by changing your location to a country that’s the cheapest. Very few VPN users are aware of this incredible benefit of VPN. The service pays for itself.

Where is it illegal to use VPN? 

Are VPNs legal?Stop thinking about are VPNs legal in the USA or are VPNs legal in the UK. We will answer all your questions and tell you the countries where VPNs are illegal.

Can you be jailed for using a VPN? We haven’t come across a lot of such stories, but the use of VPN is illegal in some countries. Governments have a reason to ban VPNs. Allowing users to browse the web anonymously can be risky since they can use the internet to perform illegal activities. Hence, governments prefer to keep an eye on web activity.

In addition to this, it may be against terms and services to use a VPN to browse a specific platform. For example, Netflix does not endorse VPNs, and the company may have the right to block your account or your VPN if you’re caught in the act.

Here are countries where VPN is illegal:

China

China is known for state censorship; hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that only government-approved VPN services are legal in the country.  The government took the step in March 2018 to prevent anonymous browsing. Most legal VPNs work well in the country, but they are known to keep logs and share information with the government.

Turkmenistan

The country entirely banned VPNs in 2015 to censor foreign media. This political move received a lot of criticism. It’s one of the few countries where VPN users are known to be prosecuted.

North Korea

North Korea is another country where VPNs are entirely banned. Travelers often have a difficult time in the country due to strict internet laws.

Russia

Russia decided to ban unauthorized VPNs in November 2017 to prevent the spread of false news and hatred materials. Those who are caught using a non-government approved VPN have to pay penalties that go up to $12,000.

United Arab Emirates

VPNs are banned for individuals in the UAE to help the telecom industry prosper. Businesses are allowed to use VPNs.

Oman

Oman banned unauthorized VPNs in 2010, and offenders have to pay penalties that can be over $2,600.

Iraq

Iraq entirely banned VPNs in 2014 to keep an eye on terrorist activities. Those who violate the law may be prosecuted.

Uganda

Uganda added taxes on social media in 2018, which forced users to turn to VPN. As a result, ISPs started to block VPNs in the country.

Iran

Only approved VPNs are legal in the country. The government is known to prosecute offenders. Punishments include fines and jail time.

Turkey

Turkey banned VPNs in 2016 amidst political unrest.

Belarus

VPNs are entirely banned in the country to prevent citizens from accessing foreign media.

Countries where VPNs are legal

Australia

The Aussie government has the right to block certain websites, if necessary. State censorship is not an issue in the country, and VPNs are entirely legal.

The UK

The UK has been in the news for banning VPNs. According to the government, censorship is essential to protect children. However, VPNs are generally legal in the country.

The USA

While VPNs are legal in the US, the country is often criticized by both supporters and dictators of the technology. The US has, in the past, forced VPN companies to share personal information of users, but there isn’t censorship in the country, and users are free to use any VPN.

New Zealand

The NZ government keeps an eye on internet users. However, censorship is not an issue in the country despite the presence of an internet filter installed in 2010.

Canada

Despite pressure from the telecom sector to block VPNs in Canada, they’re still pretty legal in the country.

Europe

VPNs are fully legal in most European countries, including the Netherlands, which has the highest internet penetration rate of 93%.

The question of is VPN illegal doesn’t arrive in these countries as they give citizens all their rights without restrictions. However, the use of VPNs to perform illicit activities is illegal all around the world. All in all, VPNs are legal in all the continents, but some countries like to ban them. 

Your rights to using VPNs 

It is crucial to go through the terms of service and privacy policy before using a VPN. Remember that the use of a VPN to perform illegal activities is not allowed, and you may be prosecuted if you’re caught, no matter where you are. Other than this, beware that using a VPN may cause your accounts at websites like Netflix to get banned as such services do not allow VPNs.

Also, the rules apply to everyone, including travelers. If you’re traveling to a country where VPNs are banned or restricted, then it’s essential to follow the rules. Search for terms like ‘Are VPNs legal in China’ and ‘Are VPNs legal in Australia’ to get answers to your questions as not being aware of the law is not an acceptable excuse. 

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