Is using a VPN illegal? In the U.S. it is not illegal to use a VPN. Using VPN services is also legal throughout Europe.
However, there are some countries and territories where using a VPN is illegal.
When using a VPN, it is also important to remember that certain activities might not be illegal, but might go against the terms and conditions of some websites.
Where in the World is Using a VPN Illegal?
Several countries currently restrict access to VPN services. At the top of this list is China, where government agencies impose a blanket ban on anyone using overseas VPN services.
Other countries where using a VPN is illegal include:
- United Arab Emirates
In many cases, though, using a VPN in the aforementioned countries is still possible.
In countries like Turkey, VPN usage is common. This is despite the Turkish government using deep packet inspection techniques to identify VPN users.
It is important to note, though, that governments that ban VPNs do take VPN usage seriously when users are suspected of participating in illegal activity online.
Is Using a VPN Illegal for Tourists in Countries Where VPNs are Banned?
As a rule, it is impossible for even countries like China to completely ban VPNs. Authorities, therefore, don’t take overt action against most VPN users. At least, not unless they suspect that users are participating in illegal activity.
Because it is difficult to completely restrict VPN usage, tourists to countries that ban VPNs can usually still use a VPN just like they might at home. However, the use of a VPN while on an extended stay in places like China may result in you being flagged as a ‘person of interest.’
When is Using a VPN Illegal?
Many VPN users use VPNs to share copyrighted media via torrenting. Others use VPNs like TOR to browse the Dark Web.
As a basic rule, though, any illegal activity you engage in when using a VPN is still illegal, even though your Internet connection is private.
Of course, VPN services like our recommendation PureVPN anonymize and encrypt all the data you send and receive across the Internet. However, if you use any VPN to participate in illegal or fraudulent activity, you are still at risk of coming on the radar of law enforcement agencies.
- Law enforcement agencies can use social engineering to identify the identities of VPN users they suspect are breaking the law.
- Agencies like the FBI are known to use honey traps like free VPN services to reveal the identity of cybercriminals.
- The FBI and CIA are known to host several honey pot websites on the Dark Web .Connecting to these can result in the identification of VPN users.
When Not to Use a VPN
As well as it being illegal to use VPNs to participate in criminal activity, some business terms and conditions state that users may not use a VPN to access their services.
Websites like the cryptocurrency trading platform Binance and the freelance platform Fiverr, all forbid the use of VPNs. Most banks also try to prevent people from accessing their services when using a VPN.
Make no mistake, using a VPN like our recommended VPNs is the best way to safeguard your privacy online.
However, if you rely on certain web services that forbid VPN use, you should take care to disable any VPN you use before accessing their servers.
Online freelancer, owner of Shielded VPN and long time website creator and designer. Happily married man and father of two amazing boys.