Are VPNs legal? Most of you will say that, of course it is, but this is not entirely true. See which countries are allowed, including Greece.
Different countries have different laws regarding the use of VPNs. Their laws of course affect you if you are a resident of these dances, but you should also get to know them if you are planning to travel to a foreign country, for work or for fun.
Today, we will look at whether using a VPN is legal in five key countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and the rest of Europe, including Greece.
For those who do not know the VPN is a virtual private network that primarily uses public telecommunications infrastructure, such as the Internet, and enables remote offices or traveling users to access a central organizational network.
A VPN typically requires authentication from remote network users, and often secures data with encryption technologies to prevent the dissemination of private information to unauthorized third parties.
Are VPNs Legal in the United States?
Yes, VPNs are completely legal in the United States. There are no laws prohibiting their use or restricting which VPNs are allowed and which are not.
Almost all major commercial VPN providers have their services available to Americans. Thousands of companies also run their own VPN internal servers, allowing their employees to access files and services critical to their business while on the go.
The freedom of choice, however, is limited to the fact that you can subscribe to a VPN provider from a location that falls under the group umbrella Five Eyes, Nine Eyes or Fourteen Eyes. For those who do not know, the three groups are international alliances for the exchange of information and intelligence.
Are VPNs legal in the UK and Ireland?
Like the US, there are no UK laws barring people in the country from using a VPN.
Given the content of the law Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (more commonly referred to as the "Snoopers Map"), this is a surprise. Some of the most troubling provisions of the law include:
- New powers for the UK intelligence services to conduct mass communication data collection.
- ISPs are required to maintain their clients' website logs for one year.
- Permission for police and other legal services to view internet connection files.
One VPN is a key tool if you want to protect yourself from an invasion by cybercriminals.
VPNs are legal in Ireland. Like the majority of the western world, the Irish government has not taken steps to restrict the use of VPNs or to dictate which VPN providers its residents and citizens can use.
Are VPNs legal in the rest of Europe? What is happening in Greece?
No country in the European Union has a law that prohibits the use of VPNs in its territory. This also applies to Greece where you can either use your own internal VPN (to talk to the company you work for) or rent any VPN available on the internet.
There are, however, two non-EU European countries where their respective governments have banned or restricted VPN access. These countries are Russia and Belarus.
VPNs are limited to Russia
In Russia, VPN access was unlimited. Users could choose from any of the usual provider choices. That changed with the enactment of a new law in July 2017.
The law made the use of a VPN provider illegal if its network was used to access sites that the country's censorship body - Roscomnadzor - had previously ruled out. According to the BBC, VPN providers who agreed to the new restrictions were given a blacklist of websites. VPN providers who did not agree were barred from operating within Russia's borders.
The law clarifies that VPN providers and search engines restrict access to blacklisted sites.
Interestingly, however, the law does not apply to corporate VPNs. If you travel to Russia for business and have access to your company's servers, you will not face any restrictions on the Internet.
VPNs are illegal in Belarus
In Belarus, the situation is clearer. VPNs (and Tor) have been completely illegal since 2015. In fact, using them could cost you a fine of $ 120 (almost half of Belarus's average monthly salary).
Nevertheless, VPN providers continue to advertise their services to residents of Belarus. In a blog post, NordVPN challenged whether Belarus still has the necessary technical infrastructure to comply with the law.
Are VPNs Illegal in China?
It is well known that China suffers from a very censored internet. So it came as no surprise that VPNs quickly became established as a low cost and effective way to circumvent censorship and banned sites.
Unfortunately, after several years of use, the Chinese government in February 2018 forced all telecommunications companies operating in the country to block access to commercial VPN networks.
Today, VPNs are only available when leased directly from the government. Usually, they are only available to companies that have cross-border activities. And although it has not been officially confirmed, it is safe to assume that the Chinese government's VPN rental networks record all your actions. In addition, according to VPNPro, 30% of all commercial VPNs are Chinese owned. If true, this poses global privacy concerns.
As with Belarus, most major VPN providers continue to advertise their services to people in China. But if you are traveling to their country, find out that using a VPN could result in a fine of 15,000 2,000 ¥ CNY (approximately $ XNUMX USD).
Where else are VPNs illegal?
Other countries where VPNs are illegal or restricted are Iran, Turkey, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Turkmenistan and North Korea.
Other VPN legality issues to consider
Although VPNs are legal throughout North America, South America, and the European Union, you are still subject to the laws of the states you visit each time you use the web.
Of course, anything that is illegal when you are not using a VPN is still illegal even when you are using a VPN. Activities such as illegal file intermediation (p2p), piracy, monitoring and buying illegal items on the dark web can lead to problems with the law.
Remember, VPNs are not completely secure. They can unexpectedly interrupt their operation and show your real IP, a provider can collect logs, even if it claims not to, browsers can record device data and leak IP addresses, and so on.
Finally, you should also consider using a VPN to bypass geo-blocking (also known as "geo-blocking") for services such as Netflix, Disney + and BBC iPlayer. Using a VPN to access these services is against the terms and conditions of the providers. If you are "caught in the act" you may lose your account, be permanently banned from the application or, in extreme cases, find yourself wrapped in a piece of paper in a court.
Is VPN legal? And do you have to buy one?
We hope you now realize that the legitimacy of a VPN depends on where you are in the world and how you plan to use your connection. A VPN may not be the best personal data protection tool in Belarus, Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and other nations where VPN use is prohibited.