Are VPNs legal everywhere?

Ruth C. | August 11, 2020

Are VPNs legal? It’s one of the first questions that come to mind before deciding to use them. Given the implications of breaking the law, the topic is notably important to understand. Well, the answer is not a simple yes or no. In most parts of the world, VPNs are perfectly legal. However, some countries do impose restrictions on their usage. Hence, where are VPNs legal, and where are they not? Let’s break everything down.

Are VPNs legal?

The short answer is yes, VPNs are legal in the vast majority of countries. In fact, big enterprises and government organizations were the first to use VPNs to secure their communications online. As soon as they became accessible to regular users, those looking to perform illicit activities found VPNs very handy. That’s how the reputation of VPNs slowly started to worsen.

Hence, the question of are VPNs legal arises due to its capacity to make browsing anonymous and private. Malicious users may take advantage of VPNs to break the law and perform illegal activities: hacking, spamming, cyberstalking, fraud, or theft.

Some governments also limit or ban VPNs for maintaining internet censorship and restricting access to foreign media. Hence, VPN usage poses a problem for such countries since it allows users to easily bypass their regulations. So, although VPNs are legal in your country, illegal online activity is still unlawful. You should use VPNs to enhance internet privacy and security only.

Where are VPNs legal and illegal?

In most countries, VPN usage is completely legal as long as you don’t use it to perform illegal activities. However, some tightly regulate VPNs or ban their use entirely. Here is the list of such states:

  1. China. The legality of VPNs in China is a gray area. Technically, VPNs are not illegal, but the government regulates them heavily. The thing is, Chinese netizens can use government-approved VPN services only. However, these tools need to agree with conditions like traffic logging and backdoor access, defeating a VPN’s purpose. If you use an offshore VPN service and get caught, you might need to remove the application from your device.
  2. Russia. Like in China, VPNs are legal only if they comply with government requirements. However, the legality aspect is clear: the government enacted a law that bans VPNs nationwide.
  3. The United Arab Emirates. Although the law does not explicitly define whether VPNs are legal or not, UAE heavily restricts their usage. UAE regulations define punishment for fraudulent activities, crimes, or accessing blocked websites through a VPN. However, if you use it for legitimate purposes, it does not constitute a violation.
  4. Uganda. The question of whether or not VPNs are legal in Uganda is a bit tricky. Uganda blocks VPN service providers to force netizens to pay taxes for using social media sites. However, no specific law defines the prohibition of using VPNs.
  5. Belarus, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Oman, and North Korea have specific laws defining VPNs as illegal. Any detection of VPN usage is subject to penalties.

How safe is it to use a VPN in a restrictive country?

All of the leading, reputable VPN providers protect their users with a strict no-logs policy. That means a VPN doesn’t track your browsing activities and whereabouts. Hence, even if the authorities legally request users’ information, VPN providers have no data to hand over. In other terms, it’s a tricky debacle that internet-censored countries and VPN providers fight these days.

The bottom line

As you can see, there aren’t many countries that ban or tightly regulate VPNs. The list mainly contains the states that impose high levels of censorship. Hence, from a desire to control access to the outside world, the oppressive regimes enforce bans on VPNs.

We believe that everyone has a right to censorship-free internet, regardless of their location. As hard as the combat against regulations gets, Atlas VPN wants to bring the free and open internet back. It offers a strict no-logs policy, servers around the globe, restriction-free content access, and enhanced security. All this can help you fight for private, unlimited browsing.

Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.



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