In many major countries, the use of VPNs is not only generally legal to use, but it is an everyday occurrence in the effort to maintain and protect privacy.
For most people, particularly if working remotely, using a VPN is a necessary requirement for protecting sensitive and confidential information. For others, using a VPN is a way of accessing entertainment channels when abroad.
Are VPNs legal to use in my country?
In some countries, the use of VPNs is restricted or banned completely, and there are other countries that employ certain restrictions and want to ban the use of VPNs.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a secure ‘tunnel’ that is created between an online server and a device where transmitted data is encrypted to avoid being deciphered by any hackers or prying eyes.
The use of VPNs is popular with businesses to enable their remote workers to keep company data and documents secure.
Most recently, their use has increased as more and more people are looking for ways to keep their information private. There has also been a rise in people using a VPN to circumvent locked entertainment services in certain regions or countries, such as streaming videos, as a VPN can change a country location.
Are VPNs legal or illegal?
Worldwide, the majority of countries allow the use of VPNs. However, in some, where the country’s government is more totalitarian, the use of VPNs is illegal. In these locations, the governments are usually attempting to restrict, or even stop, people accessing sources of entertainment or news from Western countries.
There are some web browsers that have VPNs built-in, such as Opera web browser. There are also a wide range of VPN browser extensions. By using a VPN, users are able to ensure the privacy of their online activity, preventing hackers from seeing their browsing or purchasing history.
Using a VPN hides the user’s IP address, but by blocking the ports that VPNs use (for example, L2TP or PPTP), traffic can be stopped. The governments of certain countries have passed legislation to ban the use of VPNs, but this can be hard to enforce. Other ways to restrict the use of VPNs is to block access to overseas IP addresses.
China, for example, uses highly sophisticated tools that enable them to identify VPN protocols found in packet metadata. Using this technology allows them to block the VPN servers they find through an automated system.
In some circumstances, if a country doesn’t have the technological capabilities to block VPNs, they simply ban their use across the board.
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Which countries don’t allow the use of VPNs?
Some countries have restricted the use of VPNs, unless they are government approve while others have banned VPNs altogether.
No VPNs are allowed to be used at all, and users will face a large fine if they try to bypass restrictions.
Only government approved VPNs can be used. Any VPN service provider has to get approval from the government, and may also have to agree to abide by specific terms.
Only government-approved VPNs are allowed. Users of VPNs that aren’t approved may face prosecution.
The use of VPNs is completely banned for individuals, businesses, companies, and institutions.
The use of VPNs is completely banned, to the point that locals in the country are only allowed to use the government’s version of the Internet, known as “Kwangmyong.” If you’re a tourist, although, you can access the Internet via 3G, but your activity is monitored.
Only government-approved VPNs are allowed, and logs will be retained.
Like China, only government approved VPNs are allowed to be used. Using one risks a substantial fine for the user and the VPN service provider.
There are restrictions on using VPNs; some service providers have permission.
VPNs are banned completely. Any attempt to use a VPN is detected and blocked.
ISPs are government mandated to block all VPN services in the country.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Individuals are not allowed to use VPNs. Companies, banks, and other institutions are allowed to use VPNs.
If you are traveling, as a tourist or on business, and plan to use a VPN to access the Internet or corporate files, it is well worth checking if the country you are traveling to allows the use of VPNs or adopts any restrictions.
If you're traveling to a country with no bans or restrictions on VPNs, browse the existing VPN software solutions available for your needs, only on G2.
Jack started out in marketing communications within a technology environment and over the past 20 years has written a wide range of articles, blogs, guides and white papers on a variety of IT and technology-related topics. With a keen interest in cyber and network security, VPNs, AI and digital transformation, Jack has written guest articles for a number of platforms as well as his own VPN Geeks forum.