Virtual private networks, more commonly known as VPNs, are great for maintaining privacy and evading location-restrictions on the Internet.
These powerful tools not only hide your IP address but also encrypt all your traffic to make your online activities anonymous.
Though VPNs provide a plethora of benefits and are generally legal, a number of countries do forbid them from being used. So if you’re looking for information about VPN legality in your country, you’ve come to the right place.
However, before we discuss where exactly the use of a VPN is permitted or forbidden, let’s first answer what’s probably the most asked question on the Internet, given the sharp rise in surveillance and censorship efforts.
Is a VPN Legal?
Yes! A VPN is legal in the vast majority of countries around the world, but using it for any kind of illegal activity isn’t allowed. It goes without saying that if you’re up to no good over a VPN, you can and will be prosecuted by law.
So, while a VPN can help protect your online identity and personal data from prying eyes, engaging in illegal activities like selling drugs, spreading malicious software, or engaging in unethical activities like stalking, bullying, hacking or theft of data most probably will get you in serious legal trouble.
Sadly, there are some countries where the use of a VPN is illegal, but that has more to do with them wanting to keep a close eye on the online activities of their citizens and controlling what information they’ve access to.
Countries Where VPNs Are Illegal
The following countries frown upon the use of VPNs and have instituted either a partial or complete ban on them:
1 – North Korea
Is VPN Illegal in North Korea? Yes
North Korea has its own intranet for citizens, while true Internet access is only reserved for high-level officials. So VPNs are banned in the country, though foreigners may be permitted to use these tools.
2 – Iraq
Is VPN Illegal in Iraq? Yes
For Iraqi citizens, Internet censorship is an inevitable part of their lives. In a bid to stop the extremist militant group ISIS and monitor every Internet user, the government has banned VPNs outright.
3 – Belarus
Is VPN Illegal in Belarus? Yes
Following the footsteps of China and Russia, Belarus has also banned VPNs and Tor as part of their efforts to prevent citizens from using anonymizing tools to access blacklisted websites.
4 – Oman
Is VPN Illegal in Oman? Yes
The government of Oman actively censors the Internet, and while VPNs aren’t exactly illegal for public and private institutions, the use of these services is prohibited for individuals.
5 – China
Is VPN Illegal in China? Yes
To prevent citizens from circumventing the Great Firewall, all unauthorized VPNs have been banned in China. In fact, VPN providers have to be officially licensed by the government in order to operate in the country.
6 – Turkmenistan
Is VPN Illegal in Turkmenistan? Yes
Turkmenistan has only one government-controlled ISP which makes surveillance and blocking an easier exercise. Attempts to use VPNs and proxies to get around Internet censorship in the country are blocked and can lead to serious consequences.
7 – Russia
Is VPN Illegal in Russia? Yes
Russia’s new regulations require VPN providers to register with the authorities and block access to blacklisted websites. Moreover, users have to pay hefty fines if they’re caught using non-government sanctioned VPNs.
8 – United Arab Emirates
Is VPN Illegal in UAE? Yes
One of the few countries with laws related to VPN usage, the UAE passed a new law that states VPN users could be jailed and fined up to $500,000 if they’re found committing a crime. Institutions, banks, and companies, however, can use VPNs freely.
9 – Iran
Is VPN Illegal in Iran? Yes
Iran has enacted a strict law regarding VPN use which forbids citizens from using VPNs that aren’t government sanctioned. Failure to comply with this law would result in a prison sentence of 91 days up to one year. Iranian government officials, though, don’t have much regard for their own censorship laws and continue to use these tools.
10 – Turkey
Is VPN Illegal in Turkey? Yes
Since the Internet is heavily censored in Turkey, the use of VPNs to access social media networks like Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook is popular amongst citizens. However, Tor along with certain VPN providers are blocked in the country in order to prevent circumvention of government censorship.
The information provided above doesn’t constitute legal advice and is for educational purposes only. It’s your responsibility as a good citizen to be aware of all the applicable laws and regulations of your country. Therefore, make sure you always consult a licensed and qualified legal professional if you require assistance or advice.