Is It Legal to Use a VPN?

Chyelle Dvorak
Jul 18, 2023
Icon Time To Read3 min read

In the United States, yes, it is legal to use a VPN. Every country has different regulations regarding the legality of a virtual private network. Your VPN is a privacy tool, and you are completely free to use it as one.

While using a VPN service is completely legal, you should never engage in illegal activity while using a VPN. Never do anything that violates your VPN’s terms of use policy or download any copyright materials with your VPN provider.

Is “private browsing” a personal right?

Not necessarily. In 2017, Congress voted against regulations aimed at protecting the privacy of individuals online, mostly because the restrictions were too broad.1  Congress argued that the regulations would only cause consumers and large companies to lose their right to targeted promotions (basically, advertisements based on your search history).

Because of this decision, internet privacy is no longer guaranteed. If you’re not using a VPN service, companies can sell your information and browsing patterns to other companies.

Where are VPNs illegal?

Belarus, China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, and the United Arab Emirates are a few examples of countries that outlaw VPNs and enforce strict internet censorship laws. Even though it is illegal to use a VPN service in these countries, other countries allow VPNs.

Businesses and private organizations originally used VPNs to provide secure networks for their employees and teams to use. Because some people perform illegal activities while using a VPN, some countries decided to ban them.

You can use a VPN for many legitimate purposes. People who are concerned about their privacy often use VPNs to help them stay anonymous. Many government organizations and non-governmental organizations use VPNs to keep their work private as well. This article provides more information about VPNs and why you should use one.

Can I use a VPN server located in a country that restricts VPNs?

Make sure you check into the legal restrictions of the country you’re connecting through because VPN laws can vary. There’s a difference between being in that country physically and using a VPN (which is illegal no matter what) and connecting from somewhere else. However, if a VPN is banned, it’s important to still check whether you can access a VPN server in that country no matter where you are.

Even if your VPN client provides servers located in that country, you never know what restrictions are in place. If you want to make sure your information is kept as private as possible, find a VPN that’s registered in a country outside of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

You should also consider the logging policy of your VPN. Most VPN providers have a “no logs policy,” which means that the VPN does not store your data. If your VPN has a no logging policy, then you don’t have to worry about your data being stored or sold. However, some countries can require VPNs to share their data, despite the logging policy. It’s always a good idea to check the VPN regulations for whichever country your server is located in.

Every country has different rules for how the VPN can operate, despite their logging policy. If you want to make sure your information is kept as private as possible, find a VPN that’s registered in a country outside of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. These five countries often share online data and have greater authority for forcing VPNs to give them private information.

CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and ExpressVPN are great VPN services to use if you want a wide range of server options to choose from (both have servers located in over 80 countries).

Is a VPN safe to use?

Absolutely. A VPN is designed to keep your information safe and prevent unnecessary internet exposure. You might trust your internet service provider (ISP) to keep your data safe, but you are at risk of being hacked when you’re using public Wi-Fi. Since internet privacy is not a guarantee (as discussed earlier), you should use the freedom you have to buy a VPN and keep your information private and safe.

When choosing a VPN, look for something that best fits your needs. For example, some VPNs are faster than others, while some prioritize having a large number of servers to choose from. This guide can help you choose from the best VPNs available. If streaming movies over Netflix and Hulu is important to you, consider a VPN known to work well for streaming like NordVPN or Mulvad. If you’re more interested in the best security, then look for a VPN with a great encryption software like ExpressVPN.

Remember to think about whether the VPN has a “no logging policy” and check to see which country the client registers in. The last thing you want is for a VPN client to sell your personal information to another company. Fortunately, VPNs are legal in the United States, and using one can protect your privacy.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.
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Sources

1. Kimberly Kindy, The Washington Post, “How Congress Dismantled Federal Internet Privacy Rules,” May 30, 2017.

Chyelle Dvorak
Written by
Chyelle works as a freelance writer for The Daily Beast and edited articles for Forbes, Inc.com, Fox News and other review sites. Chyelle tests, writes, and researches products and services related to internet consumption. She found her passion for public speaking and writing in her childhood when she won the Voice of Democracy speech and essay competition. Chyelle has a degree in International Relations from Crown College, Minnesota. Outside of work, Chyelle loves to spend time reading, kayaking, and running.

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