VPNs or Virtual Private Networks have been designed to provide secure networking to individual users and organizations. They are becoming more and more popular today, as people tend to have concerns about their online privacy and safety. Along with those who use VPNs with certainty and confidence, there are pretty many people, who ask “Are VPNs legal?” and “Are they safe to use?” Some of us feel doubtful about security and legitimacy of the software of the kind. In this material, we’ll answer all the common questions associated with such services.
In Short: Are VPNs Legal?
Yes, they are! Except for some repressive countries, such as Iran and Egypt, the systems of the kind are allowed to be used all over the Globe. Even if there are certain restrictions in respect of such systems in your place of living, you won’t be criminalized simply for using a VPN. It’s a different matter if, for instance, you sell drugs or weaponry via this program, as here it becomes an instrument of your illegal activity.
Countries Where VPNs Are Banned
As we have already mentioned, in some parts of the world the software of the kind is totally or partially restricted. Let us denote these countries and briefly describe their restrictions:
China. In this country, only government-approved VPN systems are considered legal, while the ones having no license are forbidden. And even if you use such software in China, you should remember that the rules VPNs have to follow simply ruin the idea of private online activity.
The United Arab Emirates. In UAE, individuals are forbidden to apply to Virtual Private Networks. If they do so, they take the risk of suffering heavy penalties, which can be as high as $500,000. In this way, the country protects the telecommunication companies that lose profit due to VOIP services.
Russia. The President of the country prohibited VPNs and proxy servers, but the Russian have free access to foreign systems of the kind, this is why they have no problems with free internet. Besides, there are no real fares for those who apply to the restricted software, at least for individual users.
North Korea. In this country, such software is totally banned, since the local officials seem to be highly interested in what people watch, read, and download from the Net. North Koreans don’t hurry to break the existing rules, as the penalties are extremely strict.
Iran. Here, there is a law forbidding people to use VPN programs that are not licensed by the state. As for the government approved software, they don’t really guarantee the necessary level of privacy and security for Iranians.
Oman. The government of this country is doing its best to ban and censor all possible forms of public media, including the Global Net. This is why it is not allowed to use VPNs here, as well as all other methods of encryption.
Turkmenistan. It’s one of the most repressive parts of the Globe, where the systems of this type are fully banned. For those, who still apply to VPNs, there are administrative fines and serious “preventive conversations.”
Turkey. Turkish government has banned a number of websites, including the ones that provide the Virtual Private Network services. However, the residents and guests of the country dodge the law by using foreign VPNs.
Iraq. Trying to search and stop the members of ISIS, the government of the country forbade the use of such systems completely. However, the state doesn’t have all the necessary equipment to detect and block VPN users.
Belarus. Following the example of Russia, the head of Belarus has interdicted the use of Tor and VPN services. Information Service Providers are required to meet the specifications of the list of banned software worked out by the agency.
What about VPNs’ Safety?
The safety of such software is beyond question. Virtual Private Networks create an individual tunnel, through which a user communicates, downloads files, and transmits data. All his personal information is encrypted so that no one could intercept and decipher it. This is why VPN is certainly the best instrument for protection of your information, and its safety is in no doubt.
Do VPNs Monitor Users’ Activity?
Some users wonder if the VPN server’s ISP can track their internet activity. Actually, there are different types of such software, providing different levels of confidentiality. Today’s Virtual Private Networks use the following safeguard tools:
- No-logs policy. It is the best way of protecting people’s anonymity. If the service doesn’t store clients’ logs, it can’t track their online activity. And vice versa, if the software supports logging, it has the opportunity to identify every user.
- Anonymous payments. If the VPN service doesn’t require customers’ names, it seems to be more reliable and safe. Most people select the systems that use e-mail addresses as usernames and let them make anonymous payments.
- Shared IPs. This is one more method of protecting your private data. If the software implements shared IP-addresses to multiple users, the latter stay anonymous. If a certain person has no IP address connected to his device, it’s impossible for both authorities and the representatives of the service to monitor his web activity.
Thus, the safest Virtual Private Network is the one that implements all the above-mentioned safeguard tools, not only one or two of them.
VPNs and Law Enforcement Requests
If the authorities knock the doors of such systems, the latter have nothing to do but to abide by the word of the law. What makes a difference is that the VPN provider may have no actual data about the targeted user, except for his IP. As we have already noted, many VPN programs don’t log customers’ activity and never require any personal information for registration and billing. Thus, reliable Virtual Private Networks can provide you with the necessary level of security and anonymity without breaking existing rules.
Is It Legal to Hide My Online Activity with VPN?
If your country doesn’t restrict such software – yes, it is legal!
In fact, most of the VPN traffic is used for business purposes. It’s a security measure, necessary for those people, whose everyday work is associated with transactions, intellectual property, sensitive data transfer, and so on. Naturally, you can apply to such services for torrenting or visiting the websites forbidden in your country (like Netflix and HULU that are restricted outside the USA). But this isn’t a real problem either, as in most parts of the world authorities don’t possess the necessary equipment to track and stop such activities.
Thus, if your activity isn’t related to serious violations of the law, like selling drugs or weaponry, and if you don’t live in highly repressive countries like China and Egypt, your use of the VPN service is absolutely legal and safe.