Are VPNs Legal? Your Rights to Using VPNs in 2022 Explained (2023)

In the United States, and most Western democracies, it is perfectly legal to use a VPN. However, they can be associated with illegal online activity and are not legal in every country. VPN use is banned or heavily monitored in less democratic nations, including China, Russia, and Cuba, and has been recently restricted in India.

In this article, we explain what's legal and illegal about using Virtual Private Networks, and we've created a handy table detailing the legal status of VPNs in a number of countries where the technology is contentious. We've also independently tested the best VPNs, and only recommend VPNs that are safe and legal.

NordVPN is the best VPN by far and, thanks to obfuscated servers, it also hides the fact you're using a VPN, so we'd recommend it if you're in a country where VPN use is restricted. Sister company Surfshark, on the other hand, is equally as safe, and great value for money.

Are VPNs Legal? Your Rights to Using VPNs in 2022 Explained (1)

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Page Contents (click to jump):

  • Is It Illegal to Use a VPN?
  • VPN Legality by Country
  • Can You Legally Use a VPN in the US?
  • Which VPNs are Legal to Use?
  • Where Is It Illegal to Use a VPN?
  • VPNs and Illegal Activities
  • Why are there Legal Issues Around VPNs?
  • Is It Legal for my Business to Use a VPN?
  • Can My Employees Use a VPN When Abroad?
  • Can You Be Fined or Prosecuted for Using a VPN?
  • Do I Need a VPN With Obfuscated Servers?
  • Your Rights Around Using VPNs
  • Verdict
  • FAQs

Is It Illegal To Use a VPN?

Using a VPN is perfectly legal in most countries, including the US. That doesn't mean, though, that you are free to conduct illegal activities with a VPN enabled. A VPN protects your privacy but does not excuse you from being reprimanded by the law for theft, unlawful purchases, or any other crime as dictated by the laws of the country you are in. VPN use is illegal or heavily restricted in some countries outside of the US.

VPN Legality By Country

Are VPNs legal in India?

*Although India has not made VPNs illegal, they recently passed a law requiring tech companies (including VPNs) that process user data (including IP addresses) to store it. This effectively defeats the privacy value of a VPN.

The new law was supposed to come into force in June but was postponed until September. VPN companies including Surfshark, Proton VPN, NordVPN, as well as ExpressVPNand Atlas VPN have shut down their servers in the country in response. Some of these providers have set up virtual servers, which give you IP addresses from a specific country (like India) and will let you unblock geo-restricted content from India, but are based in other countries.

If a VPN company has physical servers on the ground in India after September 25, 2022and claims to keep no logs of user activity, they are either breaking the law or lying. Either way, the potential for negative ramifications for users is large.

Are VPNs legal in Russia?

VPNs have been closely watched by the Russian government since their usage became widespread. Although they aren't technically illegal, using a VPN in Russia comes with major risks. However, for journalists, activists, and citizens looking up banned information, using a reputable, trusted VPN is still safer than not using one.

Unfortunately, there aren't many reputable VPNs left, for use in Russia. Russia's government takes an authoritarian approach to information and heavily censors citizens' internet usage, and the government has a long history of ordering VPNs to block content from specific websites, as well as blocking VPNs.

In 2019, demands by the government's telecoms watchdog, Roskomador, ordered VPNs to connect to a database of blocked websites or face being blocked themselves. Many did not comply and some, such as ExpressVPN, shut down their servers in Russia. The last few years have seen multiple VPNs banned and blocked in Russia, as the state becomes increasingly authoritarian.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, three things have happened. One: VPN usage has skyrocketed – AtlasVPN's Russian-originating installation had risen by 11,253% by 14 March. Two: Russia has taken an even more hardline approach to VPN usage, characterized by many a major crackdown. Three: more VPNs, such as Surfshark, have shut down their servers in Russia.

Key takeaways…

  • You can legally use VPNs in the US – Running a VPN in the US is legal, but anything that's illegal without a VPN remains illegal when using one (e.g. torrenting copyrighted material).
  • VPNs are banned by a few countries – Some countries, including China, Russia, Iraq, and North Korea, restrict or ban the use of VPNs.
  • VPNs use can breach terms of service – It isn't illegal to access services such as Netflix over a VPN, though it does breach their terms of use, and streaming services are getting better at blocking VPNs.
  • Law enforcement can demand information – some VPN providers have and will share user information with the authorities when requested, whereas others have been unable to provide it due to their no logs promise.

Need to choose a secure VPN? See all of our expert reviews of the best VPN services to choose.

(Video) Are VPNs LEGAL in 2022?

Is VPN Use Legal in the US?

There are currently no laws prohibiting or restricting the use of VPNs in the US and Canada. It’s also legal to use VPNs in many other countries around the world, including the UK, Australia, and Europe (except Belarus). At a basic level, you cannot be prosecuted for simply using a VPN, and thousands of people living in the USA use VPNs on a daily basis.

VPNs are used widely in countries like the US for security reasons. Citizens use VPNs to protect themselves on unsecured, public Wifi networks and from intrusive government surveillance.

There is a multitude of legitimate reasons why you might find a VPN handy. These use cases can broadly be split up into two categories: security/privacy and entertainment. VPNs are used widely by companies and individuals in countries like the US for security reasons and the US government accepts this – which is why it hasn't outlawed them. Citizens and businesses (‘B‘ denotes a business-specific use case) concerned about their privacy and safety online use VPNs to:

  • Protect themselves on unsecured, public Wifi networks
  • Shield themselves from government surveillance
  • Prevent websites from tracking their every move
  • Protect themselves from malicious websites and programs
  • Block advertisements on search engines and websites
  • Ensure only employees are accessing company networks (B)
  • Transfer sensitive and confidential information (B)
  • Whitelist IP addresses for accessing certain networks (B)

VPNs are also used for entertainment purposes. Due to the fact VPNs mask the IP address of users connecting to their servers, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and any other site you visit won't be able to tell where you're located in the world – so you can bypass dreaded ‘this content is not available in your country' screens. On top of movie buffs, US gamers use VPNs for a number of reasons, including:

This doesn't, however, stop VPNs from being embroiled in court cases and legal quagmires relating to individuals breaking the law whilst using their service. The US Government, for instance, has subpoenaed a number of VPN companies over the years in an effort to obtain activity logs related to criminals. As you can see from this table from US-based VPN Private Internet Access's (PIA) website (last updated in February 2022), it's not uncommon:

Are VPNs Legal? Your Rights to Using VPNs in 2022 Explained (2)

When this happens to a reliable VPN provider like Private Internet Access, the company had no logs to give over because, well, they were telling the truth about not keeping any logs. To clarify, the US government was not accusing PIA of any wrongdoing, just someone using its services.

If you're looking for a VPN to use whilst you're in the US, our research has shown that Surfshark is one of the best, thanks to its excellent features and ease of use.

Which VPNs are Legal to Use?

All consumer VPNs are legal to use in countries where VPN usage is legal. Some countries force citizens to register VPNs with the government, such as China, rendering unregistered, consumer VPNs ‘illegal' or at least heavily restricted.

Which VPNs are safe to use is another question entirely. Free VPNs, for instance, usually have a catalog of security issues, shady marketing practices, and sketchy track records that show they don't care about For this reason, we recommend sticking to the services we've recommended below.

Free VPNs may look appealing, initially, thanks to their subscription-free service, but you have to ask yourself: how are they making their money? Usually, the answer is concerning. In the past, free VPN companies with millions of unwitting subscribers have been found guilty of:

  • Allowing advertisers to harvest customer data (Betternet)
  • Stealing bandwidth from users and letting others use it (Hola)
  • Logging your activity whilst you use the service (Hola)
  • Expose your IP address due to leak (Hoxx VPN)
  • Logging activity, getting breached, and exposing it (UFO VPN)

Hola is an interesting case – they call themselves a VPN – and even conduct surveys on internet freedom like they care about their users.

But in their privacy policy, under the section entitled “What types of information do we collect?” the company states that they collect “free users log data” and that it may include “browser type, web pages you visit, time spent on those pages, access times and dates”.

The VPNs we've picked out in the table below, however, have excellent privacy features and won't treat you like a dispensable, sellable data point. All of the VPNs listed below are completely legal to use in countries where consumer VPN usage is not criminalized, restricted or forbidden:

What makes a VPN safe?

You might be wondering: why are the above VPNs safe? Just because you pay for a service, doesn't necessarily mean it's secure. Well, there are several key indicators that a VPN is indeed safe. The crucial factors you should be considering when deciding whether a VPN service is safe is:

Encryption standards/protocols. Encryption standards effectively determine how a VPN protects your data when you're using their servers. AES 256-bit encryption is the industry standard. There is no known threat or attack that can break it, hence its use by the US military and other governments. The 256 is the encryption key size. You would need more resources than governments have at their disposal – including mammoth supercomputers that don't yet exist – to break this encryption. If a VPN isn'tusing this standard, think twice.

Company history. This is quite important because it gives you a flavor of a company's approach to their own security, their user's security, and their server infrastructure. For example, it's good to know whether a VPN has suffered a data breach and, if it has, how it responded to it. Some VPNs, like NordVPN, have had scares in the past, but have responded well and improved their security. Others – especially a lot of free VPNs – have not done so well.

A clearly stated no logs commitment. You need a VPN with a commitment to keeping no logs of your activity – no ifs, no buts. In this regard, a VPN's privacy policy can be telling. Often, shady providers will sneak something about actually keeping logs or collecting information in their somewhere – if someone wants to sue, they can point to the privacy policy and say it's clearly stated in the public domain.

We mentioned Hola VPN's privacy policy earlier – this is a prime example of a bad privacy policy. NordVPN, on the other hand, has a great privacy policy, which emphatically states:

“We do not log users’ browsing history, traffic information, or IP addresses used to access the internet via our services. This means that we are not able to link shared IP addresses of VPN services to an individual user or otherwise individual users based on data that we do not process” -NordVPN Privacy Policy.

Transparency reports and audits. It is effectively now the industry standard for VPN companies to release transparency reports, and some companies even ask independent firms to audit their apps and programs. For example, in March, ExpressVPN asked F-secure to perform a penetration test on the provider's windows app. Private Internet Access release transparency reports every year. If you can't find any evidence a VPN has undergone an audit or released a transparency report, beware.

(Video) Don't Use a VPN...it's not the ultimate security fix you've been told

“Additional” security features. by “bonus” we mean additional security features on top of the basic VPN mission statement to encrypt your data and mask your IP address. For example, NordVPN and Surfshark – who merged this year into one company in February – both have tools that alert users to potentially malicious websites. It's not essential, but it's nice to have.

Other important questions

Other important questions you might want to consider before you purchase a VPN include:

  • Does the VPN consistently pass leak (DNS and WebRTC) tests?
  • Does the VPN make outlandish claims, such as keeping you completely ‘anonymous'? (this is not possible with a VPN)
  • Does the VPN have bad ratings and reviews circulating about it online?
  • Who owns the VPN provider? What is their company history like?

Where Is It Illegal To Use a VPN?

Countries ruled by authoritarian governments that don't consider civil rights and/or their citizen's ability to speak and think freely as important tend to be the ones that ban or restrict VPN use. Citizens of such regimes may try to use VPNs to get around the strict government monitoring of online activities, or the blocking of certain sites. The governments, in turn, block or restrict their use. There are several countries where VPNs are:

  • Completely illegal– Belarus, North Korea, Iraq, and Turkmenistan all have explicit laws dictating that VPNs are banned and you'll be punished if you're caught using them in these territories.
  • Legal, but must be registered – Countries like Oman and Russia technically permit VPN usage, but they have to be government-approved. In somewhere like Russia, companies are regularly forced to give up confidential data and logs at the request of the government, and a lot of consumer VPNs have moved their servers out of Russia for fear of them being seized. The situation has been further worsened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • “Legal”, but redundant – India's new data law, which comes into effect on September 25, 2022 (postponed from June 27), requires companies that process citizens' user data to store information like IP addresses. This effectively makes VPNs redundant. So, although India has not enforced a law making VPNs illegal, it has forced requirements that make technology impossible to use in the way it is intended.
  • Heavily restricted– In countries like China, even though VPNs are widely used, the government takes steps to prevent citizens from using them, such as removing VPN apps from the China App Store. Similarly, Egypt blocks access to VPN websites to dissuade its citizens from using them, despite the fact they're not technically illegal, as does Turkey.

Unsurprisingly, a number of other countries that scored poorly in our Internet Censorship Rankings attempt to restrict VPN usage. They do this by deploying tactics such as:

  • Banning consumer VPNs from app stores
  • Tightly policing/banning platforms that host VPN software
  • Forcing citizens to register their VPNs with the government
  • Blocking as much VPN traffic as possible
  • Attempting to seize servers and obtain encryption keys
  • Creating a ringfenced or walled internet (like Russia's Rusnet)
  • Arresting individuals that are selling VPN software

Scroll back to the top of this article and check out the table, where the legality of VPNs from country to country and the reasoning behind their legal status is explained in more detail.

“While VPNs themselves aren’t illegal in the US and many other parts of the world, VPNs are sometimes used by people to disguise the fact that they’re carrying out activities that break the law.”

Despite their illegality in certain territories, activists and citizens still use VPNs because they have few other choices. But that doesn't mean everyone using a VPN is acting virtuously or in a benign fashion.

VPNs and Illegal Activities

While using a VPN itself is rarely unlawful, certain online activities remain illegal, whether you’re using a VPN or not. These may include:

  • Illegal file-sharing – Also known as torrenting, this is where users simultaneously download and upload copyright-protected content (such as music, movies, and games) between each other over the internet.
  • Hacking – Gaining unauthorized access to computers or networks belonging to other companies or individuals, either to disrupt activity, carry out acts of fraud or steal data, is illegal.
  • Buying, selling, or downloading on the dark web – The dark web is an under-the-radar area of the internet, where a great deal of illegal activity occurs, such as buying or selling drugs, weapons, and other illicit materials, or accessing illegal pornography.
  • Cyberstalking – It’s illegal to stalk someone online and cover your tracks using a VPN.

Why are there Legal Issues Around VPNs?

VPNs use encryption to make your connection to the internet private. By using a VPN, you can make yourself anonymous online and mask your browsing activity. For this reason, VPNs are sometimes used by people to disguise the fact that they’re carrying out activities that break the law.

However, the vast majority of VPN users aren't breaking the law, and are just performing one of the many legitimate tasks a widely-used provider like NordVPN can help you with, from preserving their own privacy to streaming sports.

To complicate matters further, if you use a VPN to make it look as though you’re located somewhere else in the world while you’re online, you could find that your online activities are bound by the laws of the country where the server is situated – not just by the laws of the country you’re really accessing the internet from.

VPNs violate websites' Terms of Service

It's important to note, however, that VPN users can and regularly do breach the Terms of Service of various websites, especially streaming services like Netflix. Some people wrongly perceive or presume this to be illegal or verging on it, but in fact, there's zero chance you'll face legal consequences for doing so.

“In some cases, use of a VPN can breach your terms of service for a platform (such as Netflix), rather than the law itself.”

VPNs can be used to make it appear as if you’re located in another country by routing your connection through a proxy server that’s physically situated abroad. If you’re doing this in order to access a service that’s geo-locked to a specific country – for example, if you wanted to stream US Netflix while you’re not in the US – you'll violate Netflix's terms of service:

Are VPNs Legal? Your Rights to Using VPNs in 2022 Explained (3)

As we covered, importantly it's not illegal. But if you use a VPN to access Netflix, such as PureVPN, from within a country where the service doesn’t currently operate, you are effectively in breach of contract.

Netflix reserves the right to “terminate or restrict your use of our service if you violate these Terms of Use or are engaged in illegal or fraudulent use of the service”. However, this is highly unlikely to happen to you as millions of people use VPNs to access Netflix US and other libraries from different territories, and there's little evidence that Netflix has – or can – even do this to an individual.

What Netflix and other streaming services are doing at an increasingly frequent rate, however, is blocking the IP addresses known to belong to VPN servers. That means, unfortunately, that not all VPNs can access Netflix successfully so if that's a priority for you, check out our round-up of the Best VPNs for Netflix.

Is It Legal for my Business to Use a VPN?

Yes, your business can (and should!) use VPNs legally. There's just one caveat here, which is that any business operating within the list of countries that have banned VPNs will not be able to use VPNs.

In countries like China, for instance, VPNs are widely used despite the government's aversion to them because blanket banning them completely would be economic suicide – many foreign businesses would leave the country.

Business VPNs are useful for connecting to a corporation's internal network as well as to the public internet, making them the perfect tool for employees working remotely who regularly need to access company files and other confidential documents. top-of-the-range Business VPNs like NordVPN's Nordlayer can also serve to build an ironclad internal network across multiple offices. Whether it's business or consumer-focused, however, there are tonnes of benefits of using a VPN:

(Video) Is Using a VPN Legal? 🤔 Your Rights to Using VPNs Explained

Can My Employees Use a VPN When Abroad?

In most cases, a business's employees can use a VPN when working in another country. But it depends on the country. If it's legal in the country, we'd highly recommend the practice: It'll keep your employees' private data safe while they're on otherwise unsecured networks.

If your business is expanding to a new country, getting to grips with the specific rules and regulations relating to VPN use is essential.

However, it must be stressed that the legal status of VPNs in each country is unique and will exist against a backdrop of historical government action (or inaction, in nations where VPN use is legal and unrestricted) against providers and individuals using their software, and this will be used to sculpt future policy relating to the technology. For the purpose of simplicity and clarity, we've organized the attitudes of certain countries into broad categories like ‘heavily restricted', but really, every territory will have its own story.

If you're expanding your business to a new country or territory or thinking of setting your employees already working abroad up with a business VPN, getting to grips with the rules and regulations of that territory specifically is essential.

Countries Where VPNs are Restricted But Not Illegal

This includes places like China, which doesn't like the fact its citizens and businesses operating in the country use VPNs, but essentially tolerates their existence in society due to the catastrophic effects a ban could have on international business.

Indeed, China has a repuation for going easier on VPNs when used for international business. Employee VPN usage for business purposes will require employees to know the ins and outs of Chinese laws relating to VPNs, so they know what they can and cannot do. In all cases when visiting a country known for restricting VPN use, it's best to check with someone in the know before firing up a top business VPN provider like PureVPN Teams.

Countries Where VPNs Are Illegal

Countries where VPNs are outright illegal are typically run by governments that foster a generally hostile or difficult environment for foreign (and sometimes all) businesses and their employees to operate in, like Belarus or Iraq.

In these sorts of territories, there will likely be additional, non-VPN-related rules and regulations that break from the common corporate practices of places like the US or ongoing, violent conflicts/civil and political unrest that will need careful consideration upon approach. In fact, if you're either already operating in a territory like this or planning to, whether VPNs are illegal or not may be the least of your worries.

If VPN usage is essential to your business, but your staff could end up in jail for simply using them in a territory you're operating in, then you have to ask yourself: ‘can I conduct/continue business operations in this territory without a VPN?' If the answer is no, there are only two options: provide employees with sufficient information and resources to perform their jobs safely and in line with local laws, but without a VPN, or cease business operations there.

Can You be Fined or Prosecuted for Using a VPN?

Unless you live in a country where VPNs are banned or restricted, you won’t face a penalty for using a VPN. However, in the US and other countries where VPNs are allowed, you could face prosecution for any unlawful activities you carry out while using a VPN.

Using a VPN may not provide you with any protection in criminal cases, either. Many VPNs – including some that claim not to keep any logs – retain some information about their users and may reserve the right to provide this and any other relevant data to authorities, if requested. Market-leading VPNs that definitely don't log your activity whilst you use their service sometimes retain other types of data to perform things like troubleshooting:

We collect information about whether you have successfully established a VPN connection on a particular day (but not a specific time of the day), to which VPN location (but not your assigned outgoing IP address), and from which country/ISP (but not your source IP address). This minimal information assists us in providing technical support” – ExpressVPN privacy policy

Court documents show that VPN provider logs have been used in at least two recent cases (United States of America vs Ryan S Linand United States of America vs Suzette Kugler) to track and prosecute individuals for illegal activities carried out online while using a VPN.

Do I Need a VPN With Obfuscated Servers?

Yes, it's definitely recommended that you use VPNs with obfuscated servers in a country where VPN usage is restricted or illegal like China.

One of the ways that VPN-averse governments enforce restrictions or bans on the technology is to identify traffic coming from or going through VPN servers and block it. Remember, VPNs may decouple your IP address from your internet activity, but your ISP or government would still be able to see you're using a VPN if it wanted to, just not what you're doing whilst you use it

How do they do this? Well, an ISP could perform deep packet inspection (DPI) on your traffic, which is a data process that entails viewing, in great detail, all the packets of data being sent over a computer network. Firewalls deployed by businesses and governments – and anyone else wanting to assert control over a given network – have the ability to perform Deep Packet Inspection too.

Stealth or obfuscated servers essentially scramble the metadata relating to your traffic to the point where it no longer looks like VPN traffic and instead mimics normal traffic

VPN traffic is encrypted, whereas normal traffic isn't, so it's quite easy to differentiate between them with a process like DPI. If you're connected using the OpenVPN protocol, for example, your packets of data will have the OpenVPN signature attached to them, so your ISP could see you're using a VPN.

However, a trend that is now quite widespread in the VPN industry is the provision of obfuscated servers and protocols. These stealthy servers essentially scramble the metadata relating to your traffic to the point where it no longer looks like VPN traffic and instead mimics normal traffic. VPN companies call the technology they use to do this different names, but they all do the same thing.

So, if you're in a country that has restrictive VPN laws and you have to use a VPN, make sure it's a provider like NordVPN or Surfshark that has obfuscated servers or protocols available, so anyone looking at your traffic with just think you're using connecting to the internet normally.

If you're in such a country and you think Surfshark is the provider for you, it's probably worth investing in Surfshark One. Surfshark One is a one-stop-shop cybersecurity solution that includes a VPN, Antivirus, a safe search tool, and data breach alerts. Starting from only $1.49/month on top of your VPN subscription or $3.98/month as a standalone product, it'll ensure you're connected and protected, wherever you are.

Your Rights Around VPNs

Your rights vary depending on several factors, including the terms of service offered by the VPN you’re using, the country you’re using the VPN in, and the terms and conditions of any services you access while using a VPN.

Before you sign up with a VPN, check its terms of service and its privacy policy to make sure you’re happy with them first.

Most VPNs will make it clear that carrying out illegal activities is not allowed and that users must assume all liability for any criminal behavior. You will also usually find a clause stating how a given provider deals with legal requests relating to a suspected fraudulent, abusive, or illegal and indications about the relationship the VPN company maintains with law enforcement authorities.

Before you travel abroad, always make sure you check to see whether or not VPNs are legal in the country you’re visiting. If you’re traveling to a country where VPNs are illegal or restricted, you’ll need to disable any VPNs on your devices.

Ready to choose a VPN? Check our VPN comparison table to help you pick a fast, secure VPN service

(Video) What is a VPN and How it Works? | Protect Your Online Privacy (2022)

No, it's not illegal to access Netflix using a VPN, provided that you live in a country where VPNs are legal. of course. However, using a VPN to access Netflix is against the streaming platform's terms of service, so the site could potentially revoke your account – but there is no history of Netflix ever doing this. Netflix sometimes blocks specific IP addresses it knows belong to VPN providers, so if you're thinking of purchasing a VPN, make sure you check if it can unblock Netflix.

Yes. A VPN makes you much harder to identify, but it's not impossible. This is especially true if you're using a free VPN, which are often risky because many make money from selling valuable user data and even keep activity logs. A good VPN enhances your privacy significantlybut does not make you completely anonymous.

Yes and no. VPNs are technically legal in China – but foreign-owned, consumer VPNs have to be registered with the government to use, which basically defeats the points. Many businesses and individuals use VPNs to get beyond China's internet restrictions, dubbed ‘The Great Firewall', but suffer potential prosecution if caught.

No – but a new law that will force companies to store data on users that use their services will come into effect in September of this year, and will effectively render VPN technology redundant (which is why so many providers have already shut down their servers in the country). VPNs core mission statement is to keep no logs of any of the activity of their users, and this law would force them to.

Yes – if you'd like to access content on streaming sites in other countries and protect whilst online. It's also a useful tool for allowing you to access public Wi-Fi hotspots without fear of your personal data being compromised. A VPN isn't essential, but anyone that wants to add an extra layer of protection and convenience to their online life should invest in one.

Yes. A VPN routes your traffic through a secure, private server, which means that the sites you visit when using your VPN can't see your IP address, and instead see the IP address of the server you've connected to.

Honestly, there's not much a VPN doesn't hide. It masks your IP address, making you virtually invisible when online. However, the one thing that it can't control is what you do online which could reveal your true identity, such as logging into accounts or posting revealing personal information on websites. It makes your browsing experience more private,notanonymous.

It's safe to use a VPN virtually all the time, although there is one scenario where you may want to turn it off. VPNs route your traffic away from your ISP and through secure servers, which has an impact on your internet speed. The paid for VPNs have a much drastic effect on your data speeds, but if you really want to download something quickly as possible, and aren't concerned about your IP address being visible, you may want to turn your VPN off.

Possibly. Your internet provider may be able to see that you're accessing a secure server, but from here, the trail will run cold, and it won't have any idea of what you're using it for, and anything that happens after your connection hits that secure server.

(Video) What Are The Disadvantages of a VPN?

FAQs

Is the use of VPN legal? ›

In the United States, yes, it is legal to use a VPN. Every country has different regulations regarding the legality of VPNs. Your VPN is a privacy tool, and you are completely free to use it as one. While using a VPN is completely legal, you should never engage in illegal activity while using a VPN.

Can you still get caught using VPN? ›

If you're using a trustworthy VPN service, your browsing activities become illegible to snoopers. However, this doesn't mean a VPN user is entirely untraceable online. Internet service providers (ISPs), websites, and even governments can determine whether you're using a VPN.

Why are VPNs not allowed? ›

Yes, in the United States it is legal to use a VPN.

According to the law, it's perfectly acceptable to use a virtual private network to secure your Internet activity. And even though there are some major websites such as Netflix or Hulu that try to block a VPN connection it is still completely okay to use it.

Is it illegal to bypass VPN? ›

The Legality of Using VPNs to Bypass Copyright Restrictions

When it comes to using VPNs to hide the theft of copyrighted material, the law is clear: this use is unlawful. Using a VPN to do this will not only not protect someone from prosecution, but it may not even protect them from being discovered.

Where is a VPN illegal? ›

There are several countries where VPNs are: Completely illegal – Belarus, North Korea, Iraq, and Turkmenistan all have explicit laws dictating that VPNs are banned and you'll be punished if you're caught using them in these territories.

In which country is VPN illegal? ›

Currently, a handful of governments either regulate or outright ban VPNs, which include countries like Belarus, China, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, and the U.A.E., to name a few. Still, others impose internet censorship laws, which makes using a VPN risky.

Can the government track you with a VPN? ›

Police can't track live, encrypted VPN traffic, but if they have a court order, they can go to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and request connection or usage logs. Since your ISP knows you're using a VPN, they can direct the police to them.

Is it illegal to use a VPN for Netflix? ›

While Netflix has a ban against VPNs and proxy servers, it's perfectly legal to use VPNs on Netflix; it just may not work. Netflix has specific licensing agreements with TV shows and movies, meaning that they're only allowed to offer them to certain audiences, divided by country.

Can the FBI track Tor? ›

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can still spy on users who use the Tor browser to remain anonymous on the web. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. has ruled that the FBI does not need a warrant to hack into a U.S. citizen's computer system.

Can the government block VPN? ›

Government Censorship

Governments sometimes do not want their citizens to access certain websites, so they block these sites. With a VPN, it looks like your IP address is outside the country, making your access look legitimate. To counteract this, some governments block VPNs.

Can Russia block VPNs? ›

The Kremlin keeps blocking virtual private network (VPN) providers to restrict Russian citizens' access to independent sources of information. "On July 27, blocking authorities reached AdGuard VPN.

Is there a reliable free VPN? ›

PrivadoVPN: Best free VPN for Windows and Mac users. ProtonVPN: Best free VPN with unlimited data. Hide.me: Best free VPN in terms of customer support. TunnelBear: Best free VPN if you're looking for many server locations.

Is using a VPN to bypass geo restrictions legal? ›

VPNs are perfectly legal. But as VPNs are a popular way to unblock content, they've received some unwanted attention from streaming services and ISPs, who often block IP addresses associated with VPNs. To bypass geo-blocking and get digital privacy wherever you go, use Avast SecureLine VPN.

Is using a VPN in China illegal? ›

Officially, the Chinese government has banned the use of VPNs not approved by the government (VPNs must provide the government with backdoor access to be approved, which renders them unsecure). However, this law applies to companies and corporations rather than individuals.

Is VPN illegal in Europe? ›

VPN services are legal in almost every country in the world, including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe. However, you are still subject to the laws of the country you're located in – not the laws of the country you've routed your internet connection through.

Is it legal to watch VPN on foreign TV? ›

In short: yes. In most countries, including the United States and other western nations, it's perfectly legal to use a VPN while streaming. This protects your internet connection and privacy. It also lets you access content that would otherwise be geographically restricted.

How much is VPN cost? ›

10 Best VPN Services 2022
ServiceMonthly priceMax number of devices
NordVPN$11.99/mo.6
ExpressVPN$12.95/mo.5
CyberGhost$12.99/mo.7
Private Internet Access$11.95/mo.10
6 more rows

Is using a VPN illegal in UK? ›

Using a VPN service isn't illegal in the UK if it is used within legal guidelines. You can own a VPN subscription and make use of it to add extra security to your own browsing at home or on the move.

Can anyone track me if I use VPN? ›

Yes, the police can track a VPN user by monitoring their IP address. However, they will only have access to the user's VPN IP address. Whether or not they catch the person behind the VPN connection depends on the VPN provider.

Can the government see my deleted search history? ›

Important Caveats. While the government won't go snooping through your Internet history, emails, or text messages, it can review publicly available information about you. This can include anything you've ever posted to social media, an online forum, or other places on the Internet that can be traced back to you.

Should I leave VPN on all the time? ›

The answer to “should I leave a VPN on?” is yes. VPNs offer the best online security, so you should leave your VPN on at all times to protect yourself against data leaks and cyberattacks, while you're using public W-Fi, and against intrusive snoopers such as ISPs or advertisers. So always keep your VPN on.

Why did Netflix block VPN? ›

Why Does Netflix Block VPNs? Netflix blocks VPNs because they allow users to circumvent territorial licensing agreements that the company has in place with content studios.

How does Netflix know my location? ›

Netflix enforces these restrictions by checking your IP address, which confirms your geographical location. That location determines which Netflix shows and movies you see. Therefore, if there's a mismatch between your IP address and the regional availability of your show, it won't show up when you search for it.

Which country has best Netflix? ›

SurfShark found that Netflix in the United States has the most titles overall—5,879 movies and shows—while Canada has the biggest catalog of movies specifically, with 4,043 films.

Can I be traced on the dark web? ›

If the dark web page's scripts match surface web scripts, those using it could trace user activity. This is generally a problem for those using Tor browsers because they serve as a link between the dark and surface webs. If you choose to go on the dark web, there's a possibility that you will be tracked.

Can police track you on the dark web? ›

Typical web browsers reveal their unique IP (Internet Protocol) address, making them traceable by law enforcement. But a dark web browser issues a false IP address, using a series of relays, to mask the user's identity. A significant portion of dark web activity is lawful.

Is Tor illegal? ›

Is it illegal to access and browse the dark web? Using Tor to access and browse the dark web is not illegal*. You will however have to be cautious. Surfing the dark web might not be illegal, but visiting certain sites, or making certain purchases, through the dark web is illegal.

Can a VPN block a website? ›

A virtual private network (VPN) can hide a user's internal protocol address (IP address) and block their location and browser history, allowing them to share and receive information on public internet networks more privately.

How do I stop my VPN being detected? ›

13 Ways to Use a VPN Without Being Detected in 2022
  1. Choose the Right VPN. ...
  2. Try a Different Server. ...
  3. Switch Tunneling Protocol. ...
  4. Change Encryption Level. ...
  5. Use Obfuscated Servers. ...
  6. Get a Dedicated or Static IP Address. ...
  7. Reconfigure Your Port. ...
  8. Change Your DNS Settings.

How do I get past a VPN block? ›

How to get around VPN blocks
  1. Choosing a secure and reliable VPN. ...
  2. Switching to another server or VPN. ...
  3. Using obfuscated servers. ...
  4. Changing the tunneling protocol, encryption, or port. ...
  5. Getting a dedicated/static IP address. ...
  6. Switching to mobile data. ...
  7. Changing the DNS settings. ...
  8. Setting up a manual VPN connection.
16 Sept 2022

Which is better ExpressVPN or NordVPN? ›

Ultimately, though, NordVPN is the better option. It's almost as fast, has more servers to choose from, and provides more control over your security setup than ExpressVPN does. It's a solid choice for streaming too, thanks to its strong unblocking ability and dedicated IP address option.

Is Wikipedia banned in Russia? ›

The free online encyclopedia Wikipedia was briefly blocked in Russia in August 2015. Some articles of Wikipedia were included into various censorship lists disseminated by the government. Further threats to block were made following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Is NordVPN Russian? ›

NordVPN no longer has its servers in Russia. As such, you cannot access restricted Russian sites using NordVPN. However, you can use NordVPN to access other servers outside the country if you are inside Russia.

Why you should not use free VPNs? ›

The threat of using free VPN is high as it does not offer robust encryption compared to paid services. It is better to pay for a cheap VPN service than to compromise your security. Affordable VPN services offer powerful data encryptions for people with limited budgets.

Do you really need a VPN at home? ›

Without a VPN, your IP address is exposed. Your IP address and the IP addresses of all the devices connected to your home Wi-Fi can be stolen by cybercriminals to track your location, right down to the street level, if they want to. VPN changes your IP by routing your traffic via a remote server.

Can I make my own VPN? ›

In fact, you can set up a VPN server at home. All you need is a little know-how and some free time. You can create your own VPN server at home, allowing you to securely access your home network while you're away. It does require some technical knowledge to set up, though.

Is using a VPN with Netflix legal? ›

While Netflix has a ban against VPNs and proxy servers, it's perfectly legal to use VPNs on Netflix; it just may not work. Netflix has specific licensing agreements with TV shows and movies, meaning that they're only allowed to offer them to certain audiences, divided by country.

Can I use VPN in Kuwait? ›

While the internet is censored, VPN use is legal in Kuwait.

Is VPN allowed in UAE? ›

The UAE actually has laws related to the use of VPNs. Indeed, UAE law says that a VPN is only illegal if it's used to commit a crime. The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) is responsible for internet censorship in the UAE.

Is it legal to use VPN in UK? ›

Short and to the point, yes, yes it is legal to use a VPN in the United Kingdom. There is not a single UK law which would forbid or prevent you from doing so. You're well within your rights. One little thing to be careful of, however, is which VPN provider you choose.

What happens if Netflix catches you using a VPN? ›

If Netflix detects VPN IP addresses, it will throw up the streaming error code m7111-1331-5059 and temporarily block you from the Netflix servers. This type of ban isn't unusual — other streaming services (like Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and more) also have VPN bans in place.

How does Netflix know I am using a VPN? ›

As well as banning IP addresses, Netflix also detects VPNs by looking at whether the location of your IP address and your DNS server matches. If you use your web browser to watch Netflix and you have a VPN installed, then the VPN provider will be able to route your traffic via a DNS server that they have provided.

Should you leave your VPN on all the time? ›

VPNs offer the best online security, so you should leave your VPN on at all times to protect yourself against data leaks and cyberattacks, while you're using public W-Fi, and against intrusive snoopers such as ISPs or advertisers. So always keep your VPN on.

Are VPN safe? ›

How Secure is a VPN? Using a reliable virtual private network (VPN) can be a safe way to browse the internet. VPN security can protect from IP and encrypt internet history and is increasingly being used to prevent snooping on by government agencies. However, VPNs won't be able to keep you safe in all scenarios.

How can I get a free VPN? ›

Top 7 Truly Free VPN Providers of September 2022
  1. PrivadoVPN: Best free VPN for Windows and Mac users.
  2. ProtonVPN: Best free VPN with unlimited data.
  3. Hide.me: Best free VPN in terms of customer support.
  4. TunnelBear: Best free VPN if you're looking for many server locations.
  5. Atlas VPN: Best free VPN for Android and iOS.

How do you get an IP address for Kuwait with a VPN? ›

Getting started with your VPN

Open your web browser and sign up with PureVPN. Download the app that is compatible with the device you're using. Install the VPN and open it on your device; log in using your account details. Upon launch, you will be provided with a list of connection options; select a Kuwaiti server.

Can the police track a VPN? ›

Police can't track live, encrypted VPN traffic, but if they have a court order, they can go to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and request connection or usage logs. Since your ISP knows you're using a VPN, they can direct the police to them.

Is VPN illegal in India? ›

VPNs are perfectly legal to use in India, although the government has made user data collection mandatory. For optimal security and safety, use a VPN with obfuscated servers, a strict no-logs policy, a kill switch and leak protection.

What happens when you use VPN? ›

A VPN connection establishes a secure connection between you and the internet. Via the VPN, all your data traffic is routed through an encrypted virtual tunnel. This disguises your IP address when you use the internet, making its location invisible to everyone. A VPN connection is also secure against external attacks.

Is it legal to use VPN in China? ›

Recently, VPNs were banned in China and are now considered a crime by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). This comes as a hindrance to residents of China that have been using VPNs as a method to access various blocked websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Is VPN legal in Canada? ›

VPNs are completely legal in Canada.

It's entirely legal, but it doesn't mean you can use the service for illegal activities online such as hacking, identity theft, selling drugs, and other cybercrimes. Browsing the internet anonymously is fun, paying hefty fines, or going to jail; however, not that much!

Is using a VPN legal in Australia? ›

Is it illegal to use a VPN in Australia? VPNs are legal in Australia, so no. It's not illegal to use a VPN in Australia. That said, like most well-intentioned software, the things you can do with a VPN aren't necessarily legal, but that has nothing to do with the legality of using a VPN in the first place in Australia.

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