Are VPN services legal? What Makes Them Illegal in Some Countries?
Virtual Private Networks have found a use in our everyday lives. Protecting our privacy and personal information while using a device connected to the Internet is just one of the benefits. As a matter of fact, most of the users worldwide use VPNs primarily for accessing better entertainment content. The second most important reason is to be anonymous while browsing. Additionally, a smaller portion of people uses a Virtual Private Network to access restricted torrenting websites.
However, although the reasons might seem pretty basic and harmless, some countries have regulated the VPN use. Others have taken a more drastic measure of completely banning VPN provider services on their territories.
It’s a common misconception that using a VPN is illegal, however, this is not true. In countries where VPNs are in fact legal, a huge portion of users simply want to access Netflix or similar streaming platforms. Most countries around the worlds have no restrictions when it comes to using these services. On the contrary, VPN use is encouraged even in companies, because it offers a way of securely running a business. Regardless of whether you are an individual home user, or running a business, a Virtual Private Network is a great choice for you. Of course, depending on your location.
Countries That Restrict VPN Use
The trend of countries trying to control Internet usage is on the rise. Because VPNs help in bypassing this censorship, it didn’t come as a surprise when the next step was restricting providers as well. One of the more recent events was the huge VPN block by Chinese authorities. The government made a blacklist of providers who were eventually banned because they refused to follow China’s strict orders. Now, it’s extremely hard to access VPN services in China, however, it’s not entirely illegal. Unexpectedly, considering the ban, the country stands as one of the biggest markets for VPN use.
China is just one of the countries that restrict VPN use. Other examples are Russia, Turkey, Iran and Oman. These countries allow only the use of governmental approved VPNs. However, using these providers puts you in danger of governmental surveillance. The citizens who violate the rules can face certain consequences. Using a VPN provider that is not government-approved can result in fines or sometimes even incarceration.
More severe restrictions can be seen in the United Arab Emirates. Ever since 2012, the authorities have restricted VPN use only to companies, banks, and institutions. Individuals are not allowed to use these services. For committing such a crime, the punishment can be up to $400,000 depending on the nature of the crime.
Countries Where VPNs Are Completely Illegal
The reasons behind a complete ban on VPN providers can vary from country to country. However, it’s important to note that the following countries have some of the strictest penalties for breaking the law. Unless completely necessary, it’s advised not to try and use a VPN, even if it’s possible.
This country has somewhat more easy-going rules. At least compared with the others on this list. The government blocked Tor and VPNs because it saw them as a threat. Also, most of the foreign websites are blocked for their citizens. Now, if you want to bypass these Geo-restrictions you might be faced with fines.
Ever since 2015, the country made VPNs illegal in order to censor foreign media. The issue has a political background. Moreover, in Turkmenistan, there is only one Internet Service provider. Needless to say, it belongs to the government. Using a Proxy or a VPN can result in administrative penalties or “preventive conversations”, where the users are usually threatened and intimidated.
The reason behind the complete ban in Iraq is a result of ISIS social media manipulations. The government has blocked and made illegal any kind of VPN use. However, using this “excuse”, the government not only banned VPN providers, but also many social media and chat apps. And although it’s primarily intended for terrorist monitoring, this has affected all citizens on this territory.
When it comes to controversies, this country is at the center of attention. It doesn’t come as a surprise that North Korea has banned VPNs. Actually, little is known about the country in terms of Internet use. The locals are not allowed to access foreign media, and the punishments for doing this are very harsh. Even North Korean diplomats aren’t allowed to use the Internet when visiting other countries. For foreigners, the rules are a bit different, because they can use a VPN software and access the Internet more freely than the country’s citizens.
Pretty much every other country in the world has no policy regarding VPN service providers.
However, when it comes to Internet censorship, it’s hard to find a country that does not practice this in one way or the other. Luckily, with VPNs allowed in these countries, netizens can easily bypass Geo-restrictions and surveillance of any kind.
Bottom line, a Virtual Private Network is mostly used for activities that are not necessarily connected with criminal activities, making them legal to use almost everywhere in the world. Even some of the people living in countries that have a restricted use of VPNs can enjoy the unrestricted Internet. As long as they are using a strong VPN. One that can bypass these restrictions and keep them safe from government regulations.