Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) encrypt your connection to the internet and stop you being tracked or hacked while you’re online – and there are plenty of perfectly legal reasons for wanting to use a VPN.
Is VPN Legal?
The good news is, for the most part, yes – VPNs are legal to use, including in the U.S.
This is not to suggest that any regimes are not out there that stifle freedom of speech and resort to censorship. The use of VPNs has been banned by such authoritarian regimes, citing reasons varying from tackling radical views to maintaining national security.
So, keep in mind that even though you connect to VPN servers, actions deemed illegal without a VPN are still unlawful.
Where Is It Illegal to Use a VPN?
If you’re wondering if VPNs are legal, you should know that there are no laws prohibiting or limiting VPN use in most countries.
- You can use VPNs in the U.S. – Running a VPN in the U.S. is legal, but anything that’s illegal without a VPN remains illegal when using one.
- VPNs are banned by a few countries – Some countries, including China, Russia, Iraq and North Korea, restrict or ban the use of VPNs.
- Although most VPNs pledge not to retain any logs, when requested, there is a precedent for VPN providers sharing user information with the authorities.
VPNs and Illegal Activities
Although it is rarely unlawful to use a VPN itself, some online practices remain illegal, whether or not you are using a VPN. This may include:
• Illegal file-sharing
This is also known as torrenting, where users download and upload copyright-protected content (such as music, movies and games) to each other simultaneously over the internet.
It is illegal to gain unauthorized access to computers or networks belonging to other companies or persons, either for the purpose of disrupting operations, carrying out fraud or stealing data.
• Buying, selling or downloading on the dark web
The dark web is an under-the-radar area of the internet where there is a great deal of illicit activity, such as the purchase or sale of drugs, firearms and other illegal materials, or access to illegal pornography.
• Cyber stalking
Stalking others online and hiding your tracks using a VPN is unlawful.
Will you be charged or fined for using a VPN?
You won’t face a penalty for using a VPN, unless you live in a country where VPNs are prohibited or limited. However, you could face prosecution for any illegal activities you conduct while using a VPN in the U.S. and other countries where VPNs are allowed.