Is It Legal to Use a VPN?

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. Never do anything that violates your VPN’s terms of use policy or download any copyright materials with your VPN.

Is “private browsing” a personal right?

Not necessarily. In 2017, Congress voted against regulations aimed to protect 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, 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 the countries that outlaw VPNs and enforce strict internet censorship laws. Even though it is illegal to use a VPN 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 county 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 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. If you want to know how to protect yourself online, check out our internet safety tips. 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 Mullvad. 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.