Are VPNs Legal? Your Rights to Using VPNs Explained 2023
People have negative associations with VPNs because many use providers for torrenting or illegal activities. That’s why some countries ban them.
However, VPNs are legal. We will investigate this question and tell you more about the issue.
DISCLAIMER: This article and its information could be subject to change. It is best to contact a lawyer to check whether some information about VPNs and particular countries is accurate.
Is It Legal to Use a VPN: How are VPNs Legal?
‘Is VPN legal‘ is one question haunting every VPN user. If you’re a VPN beginner, then you must have faced the crossroad. There is no set answer to this question.
Are VPNs legal or not; the answer depends on how you use VPN and what your country’s law says. So instead of the previous question, you must ask: why are VPNs legal, and when are they not?
Note: All this VPN usage is allowed in countries where VPNs are not banned and the law approves the use. If VPNs are restricted in your country, then using a VPN is not recommended.
Here is a list of the legitimate use of VPNs.
- Organizations and corporates deploy VPNs to secure devices and networks
Organizations and enterprises use VPNs to protect their data and devices in countries where VPNs are not banned. VPNs come with multiple security features and added encryption.
It stands between the traffic and the device and encrypts all the data. Such highly encrypted data is hard to decode, and hackers can’t gain access to it.
For organizations where sensitive information is stored or shared, like banks and financial institutes, VPN lets the end-user gain complete control for access to the database.
- Anyone can use a VPN to maintain secrecy while being in a virtual space
Each time we browse the Internet, we leave digital footprints behind. Using these footprints, one can be tracked and hacked. Specific individuals, like journalists, authors, and politicians, have to hide their identities while speaking out their minds and thoughts.
With the help of a VPN, they can erase a single mark of their online presence and keep their original identity hidden.
Keeping the online presence hidden is important because of one more reason. Websites and browsers keep track of cookies and deliver unwanted ads and content. At times, it can be too annoying.
When VPN is at work, it’s easy to eliminate these disturbances as a VPN alters your actual VPN and gives you a new one, which is not yours. Some of the best VPNs even come with in-built ad blockers, making your browsing experience as smooth as possible. So, location and IP address can’t be tracked.
- VPNs are legal when you’re using them to connect with public Wi-Fi
Enjoying the Internet for free is a great thing. But, public Wi-Fi connections are not secure as many predators remain present here to steal your data. With VPN, you can make public Wi-Fi risk-free and enjoy connectivity with ultimate peace of mind.
- Use VPN to bypass geo-restriction
If VPNs are allowed in your country, you can eliminate geo-restrictions imposed on websites and streaming platforms. As quoted above, VPNs grant a new IP address to you. Using the new IP address, you can lift the geo-restrictions and access whichever content you want.
Upshots That One Might Face While Using a VPN for Illegal Activity
While VPNs help greatly, they don’t grant you a license to conduct illegal activities. Law enforcement and authorities adhere to strict policies regarding using VPNs for unlawful activities. Upon catching red-handed, one has to face dire consequences for indulging in something the law doesn’t permit or allow.
The charges or penalties depend on certain factors like country law, the nature of the offense committed, and the damage that was done. Still, certain standard fines or forfeits are imposed in general.
For instance, the use of a VPN for illegal activities can put you behind bars for many years. The number of years depends on the crime committed. In the Ryan S.Lin Case, the FBI presented his VPN activity log details in court and proved his crime of cyberstalking. Based on the shreds of evidence, he was charged with 17 years of imprisonment.
If you’re getting caught red-handed while using VPN for violating copyright acts, then get ready to pay a fine as high as $500,000 and jail for 5 years. So, stay alert while using a VPN for torrenting.
Child pornography is banned in almost every country, and we suggest not getting indulged in it. The act is punishable everywhere, and you can face 15-30 years of jail.
In some countries like Russia and China, only government-approved VPNs are offered to the public. Anyone using other VPNs is a criminal and will be charged with jail or a fine.
Well, it is, but with some conditions, such as your purpose should be fair. It should not be for illicit causes.
Seeing this, we will only say in the end that whether VPN is banned or not in your area, its mindful use is highly recommended. Don’t consider VPN as a weapon to hide your illegal activities. Then, you won’t have to ponder whether ‘is using VPN legal in USA or not.‘
Now, let’s talk about region-wise legal policies regarding VPNs in detail.
How Safe Is It to Use a VPN in Areas Where the Ban is Imposed?
Top-grade VPNs adhere to zero-log policy and don’t disclose user details. However, certain governments are very strict and have stringent policies to keep the use of VPNs as minimum as possible.
Such countries force VPN service providers to keep a log of VPN activities and disclose them when prompted by the government. This way, VPN users from countries where VPN bans are imposed have no hold over their online privacy and secrecy.
So, as long as you’re not doing something illegal or breaking the law, you can use VPN in restrictive areas with certain precautions. But remember that risk is always there, even if you’re not doing something stupid with a VPN.
Countries that have banned VPNs will act against all those using VPNs despite the ban.
Countries with Controlled VPNs
I wrote this article to explain more about how some states with strict laws and regulations ban VPNs from being in control of their citizens’ internet use. Some countries allow government-regulated VPNs, while there are countries where VPN is illegal.
I did some research to find out more about strict VPN use in the following countries — China, Iran, Oman, Russia, Turkey, and the UAE.
China is probably the first country that comes to mind when considering government control. Are VPNs legal in China? This is something everyone wants to know.
VPNs are not allowed in China since the government cannot control operations across borders when VPNs are used. They have strictly regulated internet use and VPN use.
VPNs permitted by the government do not serve their purpose since they are carefully observed. Foreign VPNs are forbidden, and Chinese citizens can be punished with up to $2,200. The law has been active since March 2018.
However, if you install one of the best VPNs for China before traveling to the country, you’re allowed to use it.
We could say that Iran’s laws are even more severe. Iran banned VPNs entirely in 2013. They did so to stop illegal activities and punish citizens with prison time if they were caught breaking state laws.
Prison time could be from 91 days to a year. We discovered that officials do not taunt people using VPNs for daily activities such as social media. However, their private information is still not completely secure.
Oman forbids the use of VPNs to avoid ISP censorship and the ban on the use of VOIP.
Additionally, this means citizens are not allowed to use VPNs for recreational purposes. There are government-approved VPNs that keep logins.
There are also monetary fines for using illegal VPNs — $1,300 for citizens and $2,600 for companies. VPNs have been banned in Oman since 2010.
Another country that introduced this law in November 2017 is Russia (Russia VPN). The country decided to implement stricter punishments for illegal activities on the web. VPNs are only forbidden for those purposes.
Law-abiding citizens are free to use paid and free VPNs for legal activities. But those VPNs have to be approved by the government. If you’re caught using an illegal VPN, your punishment would be around $5,100, while the VPN provider would have to pay a $12,000 fine.
Turkey banned the use of VPNs in 2016 to control its citizens’ social media use and prevent evading government-imposed censorship.
However, the law is not that strong in Turkey, which means you can still use some VPNs.
- United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates, the ban on VPNs is valid only for individual citizens, not for corporations and companies. The ban was imposed in 2012 to aid telecommunication companies in making a profit.
Citizens cannot use VPNs for Skype or other audio or video call apps. Depending on the severity of the crime, those who break the law can pay a fine of $544,000 or get a custodial sentence.
Where is VPN illegal?
I have learned about some countries that have entirely banned VPN use.
Since 2015, Belarus’s government has decided to ban VPNs entirely.
They took this step to stop any possible illegal activities against government-imposed rules.
Using Tor or VPN is unlawful, and those who break these rules can face fines. Avoiding geo-restrictions with VPN is also punishable by law.
Iraq banned virtual private networks to prevent further ISIS manipulation over social media, chat apps, and other sites.
Even though the intention was good, citizens are the ones paying the price.
The government and government-owned institutions are allowed to use VPNs and can, therefore, break the law. VPNs have been banned in Iraq since June 2014.
- North Korea
There is complete internet censorship in North Korea, but there isn’t much information about North Korea and its VPN use.
The citizens can only use their version of the Internet, while VPN use is completely banned.
No foreign media, sites, or apps are allowed in North Korea. Foreigners can use the 3G Internet, but using VPNs is out of the question.
Turkmenistan banned VPNs in 2015 primarily because of politics, intending to censor foreign media.
There is complete censorship in Turkmenistan, with only one government-issued Internet Service Provider.
If the use of a VPN is detected, the culprits can expect administrative penalties and intimidation methods.
VPN Use on the Road
If you’re a traveler, you’re probably wondering where VPNs are legal or which countries offer decent VPN services. I dug deeper and discovered which countries have problems regarding internet use.
Some countries, like Cuba, have limited internet access, so be sure to set up a VPN for your Windows before visiting this country. There are some restrictions, like keyword filtering and IP blocking, though. Other countries:
Have strict policies because of their politics. Both countries tend to block the opposition’s websites. Many journalists in Sudan and Myanmar get arrested for posting anti-government content.
- Saudi Arabia
Top 5 VPN Legal Options To Use
ExpressVPN: The best choice to make as it works in most cases, doesn’t leave traces of online activities, features a wide range of servers, is perfectly legal to use, and has streaming-optimized servers.
CyberGhost: Having servers in various countries and compatibility with multiple search engines makes CyberGhost a legal VPN. This is a work of art with security protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard® protocols, and 256-bit encryption.
PIA VPN: PIA features the most-extensive server network in the world. Torrenting is supported on all its servers, and it can perfectly hide browsing activities with a zero-log policy.
NordVPN: As it meets all the leading government regulations on a VPN, it’s safe and perfectly legal in many countries. It can bypass geo-restrictions effortlessly.
IPVanish: With good privacy policies and unlimited connection support, IPVanish is a safe and legal VPN to use in many countries.
With thousands of options in the market, only a few VPNs have gained significance worldwide and support VPN legal usage by all means.
If you want to have a safe user experience with a VPN, using a trusted option is the best bet. Gladly, we managed to hand-pick 5 VPNs that don’t violate censorship laws and even work safely in countries like China. A detailed explanation of those options is explained next.
ExpressVPN – Legal In Almost the Whole World
ExpressVPN is the first choice of many government agencies and organizations. This proves that it’s a legal VPN to use across the world. Being a security-packed VPN service makes it more desirable. It’s a rare VPN provider that adopts the third-party audited zero-log policy. Hence, what it claims is accurate, and it claims to work in China, store not a single piece of information related to browsing activity, and provide 24*7 live chat support.
Additionally, we were impressed seeing its performance. Regardless of your goal of using a VPN, it’s here to support you. Streaming-specific VPN users will have a great time unblocking geo-restricted content as it offers specific streaming-optimized servers.
- Money-back Guarantee – 30 Days
- Free Trial – Available
- Device compatibility – Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, browsers, and routers
- Concurrent connection – 6
- Server details – More than 3,000 servers in 94 countries
The legal status of ExpressVPN
If ExpressVPN is by your side, legality isn’t an issue, as it’s legal in most of the world’s regions. In fact, it’s so strong that it breaks the “Great Firewall of China” with ease. Hence, these VPN users have nothing to worry about.
CyberGhost – A Security-Dedicated Legal VPN
A Romania-based VPN, CyberGhost is a legal, easy-to-use, and security-dedicated VPN service that deserves your trust. Using a VPN is a piece of cake with CyberGhost as it comes with a user-friendly interface that encrypts the VPN traffic and makes safe use of restricted internet access possible.
Its dedication to improving the internet connection’s security makes it unique. Along with AES-256 Bit encryption, it is packed with advanced features like an in-built kill switch, improved split tunneling, and customization facilities. It’s a well-trusted VPN company with a significant global presence.
- Money-back Guarantee – 45 Days
- Free Trial – Available
- Device compatibility – Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, Chromebook, Amazon FiresStick, Kindle Fire, browsers, and routers
- Concurrent connection – 7
- Server details – 7,790 servers in 90 locations
The legal status of CyberGhost
If you want to eliminate restricting internet censorship imposed, try CyberGhost and safeguard internet usage. As it’s acceptable and works in most countries, there is nothing to worry about. However, don’t expect it to lift the heavy internet censorship of China.
PIA – Highest Number of Servers Supporting Legal VPN Usage
PIA, or Private Internet Access, is a long-running VPN company offering every possible feature required to protect the VPN traffic and access blocked websites safely. It allows unrestricted internet access using multiple features like Tor Support, in-build ad blocker, split-tunneling, and no-log policy.
Streaming and torrenting lovers can enjoy fantastic internet freedom as this VPN service provider can access almost every restricted streaming platform.
It’s the most-loved personal VPN as its users can download torrent files, access Netflix and other streaming platforms, hide social media presence, and make secure online transactions. During our test, we figured out that its kill switch is a bit better than the kill switch of certain VPN providers, as three levels are granting more freedom during VPN usage.
- Money-back Guarantee – 30 Days
- Free Trial – Available
- Device compatibility – Android OS, macOS, Linux, Windows, iOS, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, browsers, and routers
- Concurrent connection – 10
- Server details – More than 30,000 servers in 110 locations
The legal status of PIA
One can easily use PIA in countries like India, the US, and Australia to access restricted content as it’s legal in these areas. However, one shouldn’t use it or any other VPN to perform illegal activities. Even if PIA VPN is legal in certain countries, it doesn’t protect you against criminal activities.
The VPN website has clarified that using VPN for unlawful activities is strictly prohibited. So, ensure you’re not getting involved in something banned or a criminal act.
NordVPN – Secure And Legal VPN with Intuitive App
NordVPN is a legal VPN to use and is laced with multiple features to safeguard internet traffic and browsing activity. Complete IP masking, thousands of static and dynamic IP addresses, multi-factor authentication, no-log policy, Onion Over Tor, Private DNS, and no data leaks are some of the ways using VPN apps of this option will help you access blocked content without breaking any law.
Whether you want to stream your favorite show or need to download a banned game, NordVPN will help you with the job.
It’s a very user-friendly VPN to use, as there are one-click installation apps for almost every platform and OS type. The apps are compact and don’t consume too much device space. For any ‘Getting Started’ difficulties, there is a responsive customer care solution. Overall, NordVPN is a go-to option while saving a huge deal of effort and cost on VPN usage.
- Money-back Guarantee – 30 Days
- Free Trial – Available
- Device compatibility – Linux, Chromebook, Firebox, Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, browsers, and routers
- Concurrent connection – 6
- Server details – More than 5,000 servers in 60 countries
The legal status of NordVPN
NordVPN usage is permitted in most countries and is free from government restrictions. Its geo-unblocking feature is so strong that it can lift up any forced VPN ban without being caught by the government agency’s radar. It’s perfectly legal to use in countries like the UK, USA, India, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Canada, and many more.
IPVanish – Legal VPN Supporting Unlimited Connections
With IPVanish, one can enjoy maximum internet freedom as this VPN protects online activities while supporting unlimited devices simultaneously. Along with a responsive kill switch, a no-logs policy, and secure protocols, this VPN provider comes with perfect forward secrecy and Tor support.
Accessing blocked content isn’t an issue; it provides dynamic IP addresses to access blocked websites. It supports streaming and torrenting on most of its servers. But we suggest you use a server near your location for better speed.
A great relief for IPVanish users is that connection logs, Tor network activities, and internet activities are not tracked and saved as they feature RAM disk servers.
Not one or two security protocols are at your service with this virtual private network service provider as there are seven protocols such as WireGuard, OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), SSTP, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2/IPSec, and IPSec active. Hence, an improved online presence is inevitable.
- Money-back Guarantee: 30 Days
- Free Trial: Available
- Device compatibility: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, browsers, and routers
- Concurrent connection: Unlimited
- Server details: More than 1,900 servers in 64 countries
The legal status of IPVanish
IPVanish usage is generally legal and is welcomed by most countries. Its advanced VPN technology can keep the end user’s identity hidden and safe during usage. While accessing geo-blocked content in other countries, it leaves no trace. So, the governments of countries where VPNs are illegal won’t be able to track it down.
How do Certain Countries impose bans on VPN Usage?
Countries that have declared VPNs illegal use multiple oppressive regimes to impose bans on VPNs. For instance:
The VPN service providers will be directed to provide unrestricted access to the VPN servers, ask for user connection logs and online activity details, and force VPN providers to violate their terms of service.
One common way to restrict VPN usage in a country is by using the DPI or Deep Packet Inspection technique. Using the method, it’s easy to track VPN traffic and permit government agencies and organizations to find out which information is coming to their country and which one is leaving. This way, the internet freedom of the citizens has been snatched away.
How Can One Bypass the VPN Ban?
It’s well-known that VPN can help in various ways when seeking a safe online presence. But your hands are tied when there is a VPN ban imposed in your country.
Don’t let this situation make you impatient and fall into the trap of free VPNs, as free VPNs are worse than not using a VPN at all. This is the best legal advice we can give you, as free VPNs can steal your data, sell them to others, and expose you to censorship laws.
If the legality of VPNs is an issue in your country, we suggest you learn how to curb the VPN bans. Gladly, it’s easy to lift this ban and other internet restrictions. Excited to know how? Scroll down.
An excellent and viable VPN will be packed with specific features that will hide the presence of VPN in countries where strict censorship restrictions are imposed and confuse the monitoring agencies. These features make the use of VPN possible in almost every county.
Here are those features:
Obfuscated servers: VPNs featuring obfuscated servers can hide the presence and active usage of the VPN by altering the data packets and hiding the metadata of the VPN. By doing this, it’s hard to detect the usage of VPN by anyone.
Double VPN: With the Double VPN feature, an added security layer is added to the VPN traffic, almost making it undetectable by others.
Kill Switch: It is an innovative feature that only a viable VPN has. Activation of this feature ensures that none of the VPN user data and online activity logs are exposed to others or disclosed in the open space if an active internet connection drops or disconnects. It safeguards you by all means.
A vast number of servers: This is not exactly a feature but a necessity when you need a VPN in restricted locations. The more servers you will have to connect, the higher chances you have to change your locations in case you get caught.
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Countries like the USA, UK, and Canada allow legal use of VPNs.
You do not have to hide your IP address to camouflage your online activities.