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Are VPNs Illegal? Why Do Some Countries Ban VPNs?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) serves a large number of purposes; mostly to encrypt your Internet traffic, secure your online connection for safe surfing, or enabling remote users of companies and education institutions to access a private network.

If all these reasons for a VPN sound really good, how are VPNs illegal in some countries? And why do some countries ban VPNs still?

 

Countries which banned VPNs or have restricted VPN access (at the time of this article):

  • Belarus
  • China
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Oman
  • North Korea
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Venezuela

 

ARE VPNS ILLEGAL?

If you were living in any of these countries stated above, then “Yes”. As using a VPN will circumvent around these governments’ censorship by encrypting your Internet, masking who you are online, and spoofing your IP address, you can face a fine or even jail time for using a VPN.

These countries typically give official justification for regulating VPNs or making them illegal on the grounds of national security, or on the basis that VPNs are linked to illegal activities. Governments’ attempts to control privacy lead to rules of limitations on VPN usage, encryption, and backdoors. Even if these were made under the premise that they were for good intentions, they may still open up vulnerabilities to criminals to exploit them.

 

WHY SOME COUNTRIES BAN VPNS

The reasons are pretty similar in most countries which seek to ban VPNs. There is usually some type of authoritarian regime with one single main political party controlling the country. The power of a wide and open Internet is feared, because it could lead to social movements, freedom of speech, or scrutiny from the people. Hence, these countries choose to implement heavy Internet censorship to silence dissenting opinions.

Not all countries totally ban the use of VPN however. Some simply regulate the use of VPNs. However, they do this by only allowing certain government-approved VPNs to operate, or VPN providers who must report their user list to the government. (Hence, it is very important to subscribe to a VPN service which does not to keep any data logs on users’ activities!)

Because not only citizens of these countries are subject to the laws, but it could also apply to expats and tourists to the country like you, you might want to firstly recognise why these countries choose to ban VPNs before you make your own independent decision to use VPNs there or not.

Here are a couple common reasons why countries ban VPNs:

  • Ban freedom of speech
  • Want to exert iron-fist control of citizens
  • Oppressing the media
  • Do not want to support citizen journalism
  • Keep political stability
  • Impose traditional values
  • Premise of maintaining national security

 

BolehVPN in no way supports doing illegal things. But what we do believe in is the freedom to use the Internet, and your right to reclaim your security privacy and anonymity on the Internet.

 

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