Is It Legal to Use a VPN?
The legal regulations and other restrictions on using the internet vary from
country to country. This can lead many people to worry that using a VPN or any other service
shields their browsing activity from wider view could be illegal.
The good news is that in the
majority of countries, there are no restrictions on using a VPN service.
However, there are a few
countries where utilizing a VPN could lead to legal issues further down the line. This article
explore where those countries are and what laws apply to people using VPN services there.
Countries Where VPN Use is Not Legal
Saudi Arabia’s cyber laws explicitly prohibit the use of VPN services in the
Kingdom. This is because
the Saudi government already takes steps to filter the content that is available in the country, in
line with the country’s Islamic traditions. As VPNs would offer a simple way of getting around these
restrictions, they are not permitted.
The situation in China is complex. Officially, VPNs are only permitted if
they provide a backdoor
that would allow the Chinese government to monitor the activity that is occurring on the network.
Since this would render VPNs insecure and ineffective, this law has stopped VPN companies from
setting up in the region. However, the law on VPN use applies to companies that operate the services
rather than the users of the VPN. This means that the use of VPNs abroad is pretty standard. Apps
are not available in Chinese stores, but visitors who are coming to China from abroad and have set
up a VPN service on their device before arriving in the country may find that they are able to
continue to use a VPN without any issues. As China blocks a number of services that are in everyday
use in the west, such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, having a VPN in the country is essential for
visitors who wish to retain access to the services that they typically use.
To the surprise of many visitors, the use of VPNs is not legal in Turkey.
Like Saudi Arabia, the
Turkish government has taken significant steps to restrict the content that is available in the
country. Since VPNs are an obvious way of evading these laws, they are not permitted to be used.
There are a number of other countries, such as Belarus, the UAE, and North
Korea, where the use of
VPNs is either wholly prohibited or very tightly regulated. Enforcement of these laws varies
place to place, and the odds of being caught using a VPN service are generally fairly minimal.
However, it is the responsibility of anyone using a VPN service in a particular country to make
that they are aware of the laws that apply to them there and that they take steps to ensure that
what they are doing is in line with local laws.
Most major VPN
companies do have sections on their websites that explain the legal position when it
to using their services in particular countries. However, all make it clear that this advice is
there for guidance and that the responsibility for making sure that local laws are followed lies
with the person who is using the service. As the vast majority of VPN companies are global
operators, it is not possible or practical for them to ensure that every individual user of the
service is complying with the laws in the place where they are located. That’s why awareness and
understanding of the legal situation is so important.