Is VPN legal?
Is VPN legal? Yes it is! Contrary to popular public opinion, VPNs are perfectly legal in almost all countries. According to recent global trends, internet regulations are being enacted with the sole aim of increasing internet monitoring. For instance in America file-sharing will soon be monitored, and in the UK plans are underway to monitor and store all internet-communications. In order to counter this increased government surveillance, most people are opting to subscribe to VPN service providers to ensure their privacy.
As pointed out; privacy, freedom, and the relative anonymity of the internet that people currently enjoy will be short lived if intelligence agencies and copyright lobby groups have their way. However, privacy conscious internet users can simply hide their IP by subscribing to a VPN service provider and escape the undue scrutiny. There are also other free VPN service providers in the market but they do not guarantee the safety of your documents and communications, since they do not encrypt the data before routing. Many even sell your traffic on.
So, is VPN legal no matter what you intend to do with it? Yes, it is the user that is partaking in the illegal activities. If you use the VPN to engage in some dubious activities, this does not necessary make the service provider liable.
On the other hand, the scope of illegal activities vary from one VPN service provider to another, depending on terms of reference of the country they operate in and other laws binding them. Other than that most VPN providers have a common protocol in regard to illegal activities, and in case a notice is forwarded to them against the activity of one of their users, necessary action is usually taken against them. ‘Necessary’ in this sense is relative depending on the jurisdiction.
Some of the activities that are considered illegal include:
- Child pornography
- Online fraud of any kind
- Hacking of email and social media accounts
- Free download of copyrighted content
- Spam emails and messages
Is VPN legal in UK?
It certainly is, despite the government’s best efforts to crack down and make all forms of encryption legal, which has since thankfully been rebuffed. In the UK you are allowed to make use of a VPN in any shape or form, whether it be for work purposes (as it is used hugely) or personal use. There are no certified VPN providers in which you must choose from, it is a free market and the end user is allowed to make their own informed choice about which VPN to use.
Is VPN legal in US?
Again, it certainly is. Once again in spite of the US government trying to add various backdoors to encryption services. It is much the same case in the US, lots of companies use VPNs in order to help employees work away from the office, it also gives an added layer of security. VPNs for personal home use are fine also, everyone is allowed to choose any VPN provider and do what they wish with it.
Why and where VPN is illegal
In other countries where human rights, like freedom of speech and expression, have not fully taken root, VPNs have been banned. Take for example Iran where over 25% of internet users use VPNs, and where the government recently announced a crackdown on all ‘privacy enhancing tools’ that do not abide by local law. VPNs are also illegal in China, where of course they have the famous ‘Great Firewall of China’. They were actually legal for a while until ISPs cracked down and essentially made them useless. North Korea of course is another but that speaks for itself.
VPN services have numerous benefits that include:
- Allows you to hide IP address. Your new IP depends on your provider’s server.
- Increased Privacy and Security. The data sent is usually encrypted to guarantee information safety and security.
- Access to blocked applications and websites. By allowing you to mask your IP address, it becomes easy to get past restrictions set by certain websites and applications.
- Easy to install, use and configure. It only takes a few clicks to use the service.
The Bottom Line
Luckily for internet privacy enthusiasts, the architecture of the internet is so complex yet flexible that in the event VPNs were banned by all governments, there would still be a loophole to offer people privacy and security.