While VPNs are widely used among major corporations and for business related purposes, they are becoming more popular and more and more individuals are using them for personal use.
If you know what a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is, and if you’ve considered using one, you’re probably asking yourself if they are legal and safe to use.
The short answer is yes, VPNs are overall legal and safe. There are only a handful of countries that completely ban VPNs, and a few other countries where it’s a gray area.
It is important to be aware that, although VPNs may be legal where you are, they shouldn’t be used for illegal activities. Any illegal activity, using a VPN or not, could put you at serious risk for prosecution under the laws of the country where you are.
- As of now, it is safe to assume that all other countries not listed below are fair game when it comes to VPN service usage.
Countries in which VPNs are ILLEGAL:
- Approval is required by the government, and terms must be agreed to, defeating the purpose entirely. Some regions of China ban VPNs regardless.
- The current prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has a strong dislike for social media. In an effort to reduce its use, websites to gain access to VPNs are blocked,
- There is a law signed by Putin that significantly increases internet censorship and there has been talk of the “Great Firewall of Russia” been built.
United Arab Emirates
- Users cannot only be imprisoned for using a VPN, they can also face fines of up to £412,240 ($577,366.85).
- VPNs are banned with the intention of stopping ISIS. Many social media groups and chat sites are also blocked. Nonetheless, some government officials and government owned institutions do attempt to use them, illegally.
- The internet is censored in Oman and there exists a “Internet Service Manual” listing crimes/and offenses/actions that you must not commit. VPN are among them and blocked.
- VPN and Tor, anything related to internet anonymity, has been illegal since february 2015.
Gray area countries for VPN usage:
- It is illegal unless your VPN is registered with, and approved of by the government. This clearly defeats the purpose, and frankly, makes it not worth it.
- The government is actively trying to censor the internet and while it is not illegal, there have been reports of VPN usage being restricted.
- North Korea pretty much censors everything, internet included. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and many major social media sites are even blocked. There is hearsay of it being illegal to use a VPN, but nothing reliable to confirm it.
What about Safety?
Now that you have a general understanding of the legality of VPN services, the next concern is the safety of using one. First and foremost, most quality VPN providers are very safe to use. A reputable service will ensure anonymity, privacy, and excellent security systems that protect you in various ways. Military grade encryption protocols make it virtually impossible for any information in your private tunnels to be tracked or stolen, by the government, hackers, or anyone else. Browsing and downloading activities cannot be detected in said tunnels. The amount of data being uploaded and downloaded can be detected, but that is all.
That being said, all that described above applies only to paid, reputable VPN providers. While there are free ones out there, they simply cannot offer the same level of security as a paid service. Scarier still, there are even fake VPNs out there, and a novice VPN user may be fooled easier. If you must use a free VPN, be sure to read reviews and experiences from other users before putting yourself at risk on the internet. Personally, I would almost always opt for a paid service; you get what you pay for.