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Are VPN services legal or illegal? Here's the answer

Some governments in different countries think that VPN services are being used to carry out illegal activities and things. Why would a user be interested in blocking his activities from any supervisory authority unless he commits a crime or something illegal? Torrents are commonly used to download and share files and materials without adhering to their intellectual property rights, and likewise, some governments view the use of VPN services as illegal.

Are VPN services legal or not?
Are VPN services legal or illegal? Here's the answer

Are VPN services legal or not? In this article, we reveal to you all the details about the legality of using VPN services.

Are VPN services illegal?

Of course, VPN services provide a relatively high degree of anonymity, and accordingly, governments in some countries consider it a painful thorn in their back. Some countries prohibit the use of VPN services and networks, sometimes forcefully and harshly, and sometimes the ban and ban are only fictitious.

In 2021 reports, three countries have officially and decisively banned VPN services: Russia, Belarus, and China. But why did these three countries ban the use of VPN services within their territories or from their citizens? What danger do VPN services pose to these countries? Below, we give some details about this.

We will first talk about China; Because it is the most obvious example among those countries. China considers Internet services in general as representing many intrusions and illegal matters, so it has become - in its view - to protect citizens in China from that network. China has been keen to make the Internet clean of any content that is not considered within the permissible framework in China.

If the reasons are not convincing, there is one that may be convincing, which is that China does not allow citizens the basics of freedom of expression or criticism of the government. China has introduced new laws that allow police and security forces to investigate who uses VPN services and then impose fines on them. There are some cases - such as VPN reuse - in which the penalty for users is increased, and it may even go to prison!

Under the guise of combating extremism, Russia's communications agency Roskomnadzor is putting some websites and other services on hold, with heavy penalties for breaking the ban using VPN services.

There are indeed some rumors circulating in Russia that the Russian government will not pursue citizens using VPN services if the citizen does not break the law. If VPN services are used to do something against the laws in Russia, the government will pursue it without relentlessness.

Russia tried to limit the use of certain VPN services, but when those services failed to comply with Russian laws, it immediately blocked them and blacklisted them. Some rumors are circulating about the legality of police officers in Russia stopping citizens and searching their phones for VPN apps. Rumor has it that if the search results in one of these applications, the aforementioned citizen will be subject to the law without any complacency.

As for Belarus, the use of the Tor browser has been banned as well as the use of VPN applications. From this step, the Belarusian government sought to try to intentionally withhold information from citizens, which is to control the minds of citizens in attempts that lasted for years and force them to live under the ruling regime as long as possible since the events and protests that the government faced in the past 2020.

Ambiguous VPN usage laws in other countries

Although users and professionals worldwide are unanimous in banning VPN services in the above three countries, there are some countries where the situation is still ambiguous. In those countries, the use of VPN services can be passed, and whoever uses them can be caught and prosecuted as well. Below we will mention to you some of the countries that regulate the use of VPN services somewhat vaguely.

Iran subjects the use of internet services to tight control, as we mentioned, to a large extent, banning China. Iran has banned a large number of websites and VPN services, you can read part of that list on Wikipedia. Then, as soon as the authorities discover a service a citizen is using, they without hesitation put the used VPN service on the government's ban lists.

Despite these bans, the criminalization of the use of VPN services by the government has not yet been clarified. Instead of imposing legal sanctions, Iran is content to ban the services used.

As for Turkey, recent years have witnessed several attempts by the government to restrict the freedom of citizens. Accordingly, there have been several campaigns of arrests targeting opposition journalists. The Turkish government, according to the Freedom House report, is taking custody of any citizen or journalist who criticizes the Turkish government.

In addition, Turkey through its government has blocked many VPN services as well as some other websites. However, the regional administrative headquarters in Turkey are still up and running, a suspicious situation for which we have not yet found an explanation.

The UAE has also banned the use of VPNs on a large scale. However, it seems that the UAE relied on this ban on the same Russian vision, as it did not go after citizens or ex-pats who use VPNs for some normal daily tasks such as hacking the Facebook Messenger call ban, for example.

Instead, it appears that the UAE government is going after people who use VPN services for some illegal and criminal acts according to the law of the country.

There are some other countries, which have not yet clarified their legal position on using VPNs, whether for citizens or visitors, such as Iraq or SaltOman, for example. Despite this, some countries have warned their citizens before traveling to the mentioned countries against using VPN services applications while visiting those countries.

So, according to witness accounts, a plainclothes policeman might stop you on the streets of any of the countries listed and ask you to search your smartphone. Be careful before traveling to these countries and do not use VPN services.

Legal VPN services in other countries

Finally, if you live in Africa, North America, South America, Europe, and most of the Asian continent, VPN services are completely legal. Your use of a VPN service will not cause you any problems with the local governments of those countries or ISP companies.

Despite the applicability of virtual VPNs for some shady businesses, it seems that governments are well aware that there are some permitted uses of VPNs as well, which is the explanation why those governments do not ban them. On the contrary, the Federal Office in the United States of America recommends using a VPN service when joining an open Wi-Fi network in any cafe or while navigating the streets.

In the end, remember that if you use VPN services in any of the mentioned countries to complete illegal acts, such as threatening someone, you will still be out of the law. You will then be put on trial for your crime, not for using a virtual VPN. We can liken this to armed robbery and bank robbery. You will be punished for bank robbery, not for buying and wearing a face mask.

احمد ابو المجد
احمد ابو المجد
Ahmed Abu Al-Majd - Egyptian Arab blogger and YouTuber - supervisor and owner of the Abu Al-Majd YouTube channel - I share my experience in the technical field in a simple way that suits everyone. facebook ــــ twitter ــــ instagram ــــ pinterest ــــ youtube ــــ linkedin ــــ abouelmagd احمد ابو المجد 2