This question comes up again and again, as many misconceptions surround this technology. In this article, you will learn how VPNs work, where they are legal, and in which countries VPNs are prohibited or restricted for use.
How are VPN bans enforced?
Is using a VPN legal in Europe and the USA? The short answer is, yes, it is. But not everywhere in the world VPNs can be used that easily. In China, for example, VPN providers need specific permits to offer their services. The same applies to Iran. In some countries, VPN services are even completely banned – these include Turkey, Russia, and Iraq, among others.
But what are VPNs anyway? Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are powerful tools that can help protect one’s privacy from government surveillance. However, a VPN was not created for breaking the law. An illegal act remains illegal even if it is done using a VPN solution.
If you’re in countries where VPN use is restricted or even banned, look for a premium VPN provider that offers the following features:
Hidden servers: This feature hides from foreign eyes that you are using a VPN. It does this by hiding all your data packets and VPN metadata.
Double VPN: Double is better. The Double VPN feature goes the extra mile and adds an extra layer of encryption so you can surf even more securely.
Kill Switch: Whenever your VPN connection is interrupted, this feature also interrupts your Internet connection. This prevents any of your data from accidentally leaking out.
A large number of servers: VPN providers with many servers offer you the possibility to find a suitable connection almost anywhere in the world, as well as alternative servers in case one should be overloaded.
Why is VPN not allowed in some countries?
VPN services are an obstacle for any government that relies heavily on online surveillance or censorship. That’s because powerful VPN services help users circumvent both of the following practices: to protect their traffic from governments and ISPs.
As a result, some countries demonize VPN services, claiming they are mainly used for criminal activities. Others make VPNs illegal by law. However, in both cases, the goal is the same – to prevent people from enjoying the free Internet the way it should be.
What does a VPN have to do with geoblocking?
Many users also use their VPN to get around geoblocking. Geoblocking is the process of limiting certain content to set regions of the world, and it can be used when streaming, for example. As a result, you may not be able to watch your favorite series abroad. Or, when doing research, you may be shown different websites depending on the country. With a VPN, you can change your virtual location with one click. When streaming, it depends on the provider whether the circumvention of geo-blocking is allowed through a VPN or other means.
Here are some benefits to using a VPN:
- Private and secure web browsing as traffic is encrypted.
- Secure use of public Wi-Fi while traveling.
- Maintaining online freedom and bypassing censorship if you live in or visit a repressive state.
- Accessing geographically restricted sites and services in other countries or those at home if living abroad.
- Secure and private search for information and shielded communications on sensitive topics, such as when journalists investigate corruption.
- Working with sensitive trade secrets or other important data that must remain protected at all costs.
Where are VPNs illegal?
VPNs are legal almost all over the world. However, in some countries, VPNs are only legal if they meet specific requirements that seriously compromise the security and privacy they provide. For this list, we will consider VPNs illegal in a country if:
The use of VPN software is expressly prohibited for a substantial portion or all of a country’s population;
A VPN service is legal only if it complies with government regulations that allow the government to monitor users regularly.
The growth of VPNs as a global tool for security, privacy, and Internet freedom is a relatively recent phenomenon. Many countries with repressive tendencies that have not yet enacted laws regulating their use may still be planning to do so. One of the best places to monitor potential attitude changes is Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net report.
We will update this list whenever we can, but no one is perfect. If the country you’re visiting or living in doesn’t particularly value internet freedom but isn’t on our list of anti-VPN countries, it may be worth researching to find out whether or not you can use a VPN.
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