The legality of VPNs depends on the laws of the land. In most places, VPNs are legal.
VPNs (Virtual Private Network) offer an excellent way of protecting your security and privacy over the internet. They also enable you to reclaim your online freedom.
In most countries, VPNs are legal since citizens have a right to online privacy. Nonetheless, using a VPN for illegal activities is prohibited in these free countries.
VPNs are illegal in authoritarian states with stringent internet censorship, and their usage is restricted. VPN connections can also be blocked altogether.
VPN use can land you in jail or a hefty fine in some states. Other repressive countries require VPNs to have licenses, which is how the government controls them.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
A VPN service allows people to bypass restrictions, unblock websites and express their freedom of speech and other concerns. This is not good for authoritarian states that seek to tighten control over their citizens.
Thus, VPNs are seen as a threat, and making them illegal or banning their usage restores control in these regimes.
Other than oppressive regimes, using a VPN service for illegal activities is not allowed even in countries where VPNs are legal.
Illegal activities include using a VPN to commit nationally and internationally recognized crimes, activities that violate the laws of the land, infringing copyrights, and cyberbullying.
You may also experience VPN restrictions in areas where VPNs are legal. Usually, these places include learning institutions and offices, where some sites are blocked for good reasons.
Websites such as social media are seen as distractions. You may use a VPN service to unblock the websites, but you might face serious consequences if you are caught.
VPNs are illegal or partly illegal in authoritarian countries. Notable countries include:
Belarus: Due to the political situation in the country, VPNs, Tor network, and any anonymizing technology are illegal. Services such as Telegram are also blocked. Using either of them can be very dangerous at any given moment.
Iraq: To curb the extremist militant groups, Iraq declared VPNs illegal, and users can get punishments if caught. Additionally, social media and other chat apps are also blocked.
North Korea: VPN apps are illegal, and the country has banned access to the World Wide Web altogether. Trying to use a VPN in North Korea can land you in jail.
Citizens can access content via “Kwangmyong” – North Korea’s internal internet.
Turkey: VPNs are partly illegal. Although they are allowed, the government occasionally blocks VPNs since citizens can use them to unblock social media and other restricted sites and services.
In these countries, VPNs are not illegal, but most overseas providers are blocked. In some countries, domestic VPNs must share user data with the government.
Moreover, using a VPN to access anti-government services and websites or perform illegal activities is prohibited.
Notable countries include:
China: VPNs are not illegal in China; however, the government only allows licensed VPN providers. Unlicensed VPN providers are blocked in the country.
China also uses the Great Firewall to block most VPN connections and restrict access to various websites, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and others.
Egypt: VPNs are not illegal, but the government imposes restrictions on their usage.
For instance, it is illegal to use a VPN to commit a crime, including accessing immoral content, VoIP apps, and anti-government content.
Russia: Most VPNs are banned or blocked to deter citizens from accessing prohibited content. Additionally, VPN providers who do not comply with the state’s law to share users’ information with the government or allow access to “prohibited content” are not welcome. A VPN server will also need to be located in Russia for it to be legal. Russia’s VPN ban is one of the harshest.
UAE: VPNs are legal; however, using a VPN to commit a crime or illegal activity can result in fines or jail time.
Accessing anti-government websites using Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and several other Voice over IP address (VoIP) services is considered a crime in the country.
Uganda: VPNs are not illegal, but their usage is restricted.
ISPs block VPN traffic because citizens use VPNs to circumvent the social media tax, which is supposedly cheaper than a VPN.
Venezuela: VPNs are legal in Venezuela; however, the government blocks some VPN sites to clamp down on internet freedom and rights to free speech.
Speaking of VPNs and Venezuela, check out our guide we made on Venezuela VPNs for more info.
To restrict VPN usage, most countries sought repressive methods and ISPs to implement VPN blocks. These methods include:
Are VPNs legal in every other country not on this list? The answer is yes.
Besides impeccable security and privacy, you must consider other VPN aspects if you want to use a good and secure VPN service in authoritarian regimes.
These aspects add an extra layer of security and privacy and help bypass blocks and restrictions.
They are as follows:
It would help if you also avoided free VPNs, which are generally unreliable and sometimes even sell data to governments.
A free VPN generally does not work with streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix US, or Hulu.
And speaking on the BBC iPlayer and VPNs, our guide on how to watch the BBC iPlayer in the USA will give you more info about unblocking options.
A VPN is an excellent tool for safeguarding your online privacy and security. You can use a VPN in most places globally, except in autocratic regimes where VPNs are illegal. VPN usage can also be restricted in some countries or various institutions.
Additionally, to be safe regarding the laws of the land, don’t use a VPN for illegal activities.
Some people found answers to these questions helpful
Is it legal to unblock content using a VPN?
It is permissible to use a VPN to unblock restricted content unless when clearly stated it is not. Ensure you know the laws of the land in accordance with VPN usage. Accessing legally blocked content or illegal content can have serious consequences.
Can I be tracked while using a VPN?
With a no-log VPN, your online footsteps are invisible. A VPN uses powerful encryption to keep your online traffic and connections safe from prying eyes. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider), interested third parties, and even the authorities won't know what you are doing online.
Is using a VPN illegal for unblocking Netflix?
Is using a VPN illegal for torrenting?
No. Using a VPN to torrent content is not illegal. However, torrenting is usually frowned upon since it creates an avenue for exchanging pirated illegal content. Even if you are torrenting allowed content, your connection can be blocked.
Which VPNs are legal to use?
The laws of the land heavily determine VPN usage. In most countries, all VPNs are legal to use, and you have the liberty to choose the VPN provider that will protect your online privacy and security.
Are VPNs legal in the United States?
Yes, VPNs are legal in the United States. The United States does not have any restrictions on VPN use or VPN legality. A VPN user will never break the law by just buying a VPN subscription.