Many people throughout the world use VPNs for increased online privacy. It is your right to protect yourself while using the Internet, and most countries respect that right. You should still know what is illegal to do with a VPN to prevent trouble with some authorities. Ignorance is not an accepted excuse when it comes to prohibited online activities.
Here is a short discussion of VPN legality and the things you should not do with a VPN. It can serve as a guide for expats, travelers, and those who live in areas where VPNs are required for access to an uncensored Internet.
Are VPNs Legal in General?
The first point we should address is the general status of VPNs in various countries. As a general rule, using a VPN is legal for anyone at anytime in most countries of the world. With that being said there are a few countries that have taken measures to limit or ban the use of VPNs.
These countries include:
• North Korea
This is not a static list. Many countries can choose to ban VPNs when it is convenient for them to do so, reversing the ban a short time later. The best advice is to be aware of the VPN laws in the country you decide to visit before you arrive. Once again, saying that you were unaware of the existing laws will not usually smooth things over when you break those laws.
There are certain areas of the world that have a reputation for being strict when it comes to online activities. You may think that you aren’t doing anything wrong, but the state may think otherwise. Better safe than sorry.
How You Use VPN Matters
Let’s simplify something right away. If an Internet activity is illegal without a VPN, it is illegal when using one. Using a VPN may help you conceal your Internet activities. It does not give you a get-out-of-jail-free card if you are breaking the law. The things that you think are illegal probably are, so use caution.
What is illegal to do with a VPN? The laws regarding Internet access and use throughout the world can vary from region to region. There are a few things that will be prohibited everywhere. Here are a few examples of activities that could land you in hot water with the authorities if you are caught engaging in them.
Certain types of pornography are illegal in every part of the world. Most of these sites involve children. Your VPN provider may already have measures in place that will prevent access to such sites. If not, access to these porn sites can be cause for criminal charges. We don’t believe that the exploitation of children is a question of Internet freedom. It’s just wrong, and illegal in most areas.
Another illegal activity can be torrenting copywrited material. We will say that this is a gray issue among many VPN users. Some of them see no problem with using VPN to download media that is protected under copyright.
The passage of digital copyright protection laws in recent years has changed things. Some regions are actively prosecuting individuals that use torrenting to pirate movies, television shows, and media. In addition, some VPN providers are no longer allowing individuals to use VPN for this purpose. You should check with your provider regarding the terms and conditions of your VPN service.
Legitimate Ways To Use Your VPN
In our experience the majority of people are using a VPN for legitimate reasons. They only want to increase their privacy and security. Wanting a safer experience when you are using the Internet does not mean that you have something to hide.
When you use unsecured networks, the exposure of your data is always a concern. Hackers and data thieves are always looking for sources of personal information, and they target those who are most vulnerable. This means getting the low-hanging fruit from individuals who use public WiFi without some type of protection.
If you are traveling and often find yourself dependent on unsecured networks for Internet access, a VPN gives you an encrypted connection. Even the ISP that you are using will not be able to see what you are doing online, only that you are connected.
Another legitimate reason to use a VPN is to change your IP address. This can allow you to use services that you use in your own country. Some countries block websites and services. This is usually encountered with media streaming platforms. The Netflix that you enjoy at home may not be available in another country.
Some countries also block access to dating and gambling websites in accordance with religious customs. In China it is routine for the Great Firewall of China to restrict access to social media sites, news websites, and even Google searches. You can sometimes evade this type of geo-blocking with a VPN. When you connect to a VPN, the IP address of the VPN server is logged instead of your own.
Protecting Yourself With a VPN
Before we conclude this discussion of what is illegal to do with a VPN, we need to talk about protecting yourself. In today’s world it is possible for individuals to get caught up in circumstances that can land them in them hot water.
There are stories of individuals performing an innocent search who are then accused by a spouse or an employer of illegal activity. The Internet records can be used against them. This is why it is important that you choose a VPN provider that does not keep logs of Internet activity. When no logs are kept, none can be turned over to any authorities.
It is your right to take any measures at your disposal to keep yourself safe online. It is not illegal for you to use a VPN in most places. Just remember that you should not violate the law. It is not the responsibility of a VPN provider to monitor or police what you are doing with your VPN account.
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