Are VPNs Legal? Your Rights to Using VPNs Explained 2021

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People have negative associations when it comes to VPNs because many folks use providers for torrenting or illegal activities. That’s why some countries ban them.

However, VPNs are legal. We will dig deeper into this question and tell you more about the issue.

DISCLAIMER: This article and the information provided in it could be subject to change. To check whether some pieces of information about VPNs and particular countries are accurate, it is best to contact a lawyer.

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. Honestly speaking, 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 in this regard. So instead of the previous question, you must ask why are VPNs legal and when are they not.

Note: All these VPN uses are allowed in countries where VPNs are not banned and the law approves the use. If VPNs are banned in your country, then using a VPN is not at all recommended.

Here is a list of the legitimate use of VPNs.

  • Organizations and corporates deploying VPNs to secure the devices and network

In countries where VPNs are not banned, organizations and enterprises of all sorts use VPN to protect the data and devices. 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 full control for access to the database.

  • Anyone can use VPN to maintain secrecy while being present in virtual space  

Each time we browse the internet, we leave digital footprints behind. Using these footprints, one can be tracked and hacked. Certain 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 get rid of these disturbances as VPN alters your actual VPN and gives you a new one, which is actually not yours. Some of the best VPNs even come with in-built ad blockers and make 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 then you can get rid of 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 are of great help, they don’t grant you a license to conduct illegal activities. Law enforcement and authorities adhere to strict policies regarding the use of VPN for illegal activities. Upon catching red-handed, one has to face dire consequences for being indulged in something that the law doesn’t permit or allow.

Speaking of the charges or penalties, it depends on certain factors like country law, nature of the offense committed, and damage was done. Still, some certain standard fines or forfeits are imposed in general.

For instance, the use of a VPN for illegal activities can put you behind the 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 to get indulged in it anyhow. The act is punishable everywhere and you can end up facing 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.

Coming to your probable next questions: Are VPNs legal in the USA? or, are VPNs legal in the UK?

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, won’t have to ponder over ‘is using VPN legal in USA or not.

Now, let’s talk about region-wise legal policies regarding VPNs in detail.

How Safe It Is To Use A VPN In Areas Where The Ban is Imposed?

VPNs of top-grade adhere to zero-log policy and don’t disclose the user details. However, certain governments are very strict and have stringent policies to keep the use of VPN as minimum as possible.

Such countries force VPN service providers to keep the log of VPN activities and disclose them when prompted by the government. This way, VPN users coming from countries when 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 a law, you can use VPN in restrictive areas with certain precautions. But, keep in mind that risk is always there even if you’re not doing something stupid with a VPN.

Countries that have imposed a ban on VPN will take action against all those who are using VPN 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

China is probably the first country that comes to mind when you think of 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 up to $2,200 for using them. 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.

  • Iran

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 found out 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

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 money fines for using illegal VPNs — $1,300 for citizens and $2,600 for companies. VPNs have been banned in Oman since 2010.

  • Russia

Another country that introduced this law in November 2017 is Russia. 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

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 are not allowed to 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 completely banned the use of VPNs.

  • Belarus

Since 2015, Belarus’s government has decided to ban VPNs in the country entirely.

They took this step to stop any possible illegal activities that go against the 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

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 the 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

Turkmenistan banned VPNs in 2015 primarily because of politics, with the intent 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:

  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia

Have strict policies because of their politics. Both countries tend to block the oppositions’ websites. Many journalists in Sudan and Myanmar get arrested for posting anti-government content.

If you need to conceal your IP address while traveling, download a VPN to your iPhone or other devices, like NordVPN, before leaving your country. You will need VPN services in countries such as:

  • Tunisia
  • Bahrain
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
1
ExpressVPN
Excellent (5)
2
CyberGhost
Excellent (5)
3
PIA VPN
Good (4,5)
4
NordVPN
Good (4,5)
5
IPVanish
Good (4,5)
Author Moritz Meyer Foto

Moritz Meyer

32 years, Cybersecurity Expert

As an expert in cybersecurity, Moritz has excellent knowledge of network and system administration. He has a keen interest in technology and online privacy and believes that everyone has the right to anonymity. Moritz is concerned about the protection of your confidential data.

FAQs

Are VPNs legal in UK and US?

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.

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Can you go to jail for using a VPN?
Where is VPN illegal?

Comments

  • Anonym says:

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article!

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