There are many VPN services available nowadays, so it stands to reason that using one has advantages. The questions are, “What are these advantages?” and “Are VPNs legal?”. Learn if VPN usage is legal in United States, United Kingdom, European Union, China, Russia, UAE, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Oman, India, North-Korea. Also, are VPNs legal for torrenting, for unblocking Netflix, and for Kodi?
Before we look at the advantages and legality of VPNs, it will help to understand how they work and what they do. A virtual private network (VPN) connection basically does two things:
- It manipulates your device’s IP address, making you appear that it originates from a different place (machine, location, or country).
- It encrypts and cloaks your signal, making is impossible for any eavesdroppers to monitor your online activity.
Advantages of using a VPN
Although a VPN slows down connection speed by between 25 and 50% percent, there are a number of good reasons why you might want to change/hide your IP address or cloak your activities.
- Download and upload P2P files in privacy – P2P is frowned upon by the MPAA and other cinema and music associations. This is detected eavesdropping on ISP signals, something which a VPN will prevent.
- Access streaming content from outside your country – Content streaming services such as Netflix are not allowed to stream content outside the US due to copyright agreements. This is enforced by reading an IP and tracing it to its country of origin. With a VPN, the Netflix block can be bypassed.
- Break out of restrictive networks – A VPN connection will allow you to break of a restrictive network at school or at work and connect to websites and webmail services that might otherwise be restricted.
- Using public Wi-Fi with confidence – Public and hotel WiFi is notoriously insecure. A VPN will add a layer of security to the WiFi connection that will protect the user.
- Cloak VOIP Phone Calls – VOIP services like Skype are easy to eavesdrop on. A VPN will prevent this from happening.
- Bypass a country’s web censorship – Some countries choose to impose oppressive internet censoring on their entire countries. A VPN server will enable you to tunnel out of the censorship restrictions.
- Watch home-specific broadcasts while traveling – A VPN tunnel connection can be used to force the foreign connection to access your home country as if you were physically there, enabling you to watch local football feeds, TV and newscasts. Don’t forget to read: 7 tips to keep your laptop secure while traveling.
- Use search engines without having searches logged – Search engines catalog every web search you perform to customise the advertising and future searches for your computer. With a VPN, this is not possible and it protects your privacy. Also, you may want to use a private search engine.
- Privacy is a basic right – If you are a firm believer in personal privacy and the right to receive and broadcast without being surveilled and cataloged by authorities, a VPN or Tor are the way to go.
- Avoid reprisals and tracebacks when doing research – If you do sensitive research for your company or don’t want your research details known for any other reason, using a VPN will prevent this.
Are VPNs legal or illegal?
In general, VPNs are legal in most countries, but how it is being used will ultimately determine its legality in those countries. There are however many countries where the use of VPNs is illegal, irrespective of what it is being used for.
Legality of VPNs is various countries
Are VPNs legal in the United States?
VPNs are totally legal in the US and are in fact used by numerous organisations.
You need to however be careful what you do with your VPN, as some usages are against the law. If you use a VPN to prevent people from determining your IP address or location, this is legal in the US.
If you however use a VPN to download movies illegally, you are committing copyright violation which is a crime in US.
Is VPN legal in the United Kingdom?
Although VPNs are legal is the UK, this should not be confused with the legal use of VPNs. VPNs could be used for illegal activities and these normally involve copyright infringements. If you use a VPN to download copyrighted material illegally in the UK, you could face severe penalties.
Are VPN services legal in the European Union?
Although VPNs are legal in the EU. However, there are some, for instance Denmark that have introduced laws that enable them to censor internet content. In this case, VPNs could be used to bypass the censorship.
Is VPN usage legal in China?
VPNs are not legal in China. China continuously tries to close down VPN service providers by blocking individual providers, but this is not effective as new services keep replacing those the government blocks. With new legislation released by China, VPN service providers need to get approval from the government. This however means they have to agree to terms that defeat the purposes of VPNs. Some regions ban the use of VPNs completely.
Are VPNs legal in Russia?
VPNs are illegal in Russia and Putin has signed a new law that increases internet censorship substantially. This is generally seen as being the beginning of the Russia VPN ban. There is however much confusion about what exactly is banned and how it will be implemented due to media reports not always being accurate.
Are VPN services legal in the UAE?
The United Arab Emirates has recently banned the use of VPNs. Penalties for using a VPN are stiff and range from imprisonment to massive fines of up to £400,000. The law states that:
Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dh500,000 [£100,000] and not exceeding Dh2,000,000 [£400,000], or either of these two penalties.
The law also refers to accessing blocked services or websites, which can only be done with a VPN or proxy. Such blocked services are: Snapchat, Viber, and WhatsApp, other VOIP services except for Skype.
However, many Internet users from UAE are using VPN apps and services.
Is VPN usage legal in Turkey?
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of the country has expressed his dislike for social media publicly, and his administration introduced the blocking of various sites. Also, Tor and popular VPN services were blocked by ISPs. Clearly, the VPN usage is discouraged in Turkey, but not illegal.
Are VPNs legal in Iraq?
Although VPNs are officially illegal in Iraq, government owned institutions and government officials casually break their own laws and use VPNs daily. Iraq has banned the use of VPNs and blocks chat apps and social media under the pretext of stopping ISIS.
Is VPN legal in Iran?
In Iran, VPNs are illegal unless they have been registered with the Iranian government and they personally approve them. There is however not much point in using a VPN under these conditions. However, there are remedies to the Iranian block.
Are VPN services legal in Oman?
Is VPN usage legal in India?
VPNs are legal in India despite a recent government warning that internet users could face jail time plus a fine visiting forbidden websites. A judge however later pointed out that this activity is not illegal.
Are VPNs legal in North-Korea?
Although there are no credible sources that can indicate whether VPNs are legal in North Korea or not, the country has blocked major social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Legality of VPNs for various usages
Are VPNs legal for torrenting?
Torrents are legal to download whether you use a VPN or not. When copyrighted material is however shared and downloaded, this is illegal. Make sure that you read our 12 tips o how to torrent safely. and that you use one of the VPN services that allow torrent traffic. Also, you should not trust free VPN services for your torrent downloads.
Is VPN usage legal for unlocking Netflix?
Are VPN services legal for Kodi?
Although VPNs are legal in most parts of the world, care should be taken not to use them for illegal purposes. There are however a number of countries where using a VPN is illegal and breaking these laws could result in stiff penalties.