In today’s world, privacy is at the heart of many of our security concerns. We are online all the time and carry trackable mobile devices everywhere we go. Anyone who has access to our data or who is able to track out phones can do severe damage. Identity theft is rife, with millions of people losing money and opportunities due to data stolen in breaches and hacks.
Over the past few years, virtual private networks (VPNs) have become one of the first lines of defense in preventing privacy breaches. A VPN routes your connection through an external server, hiding your IP address, masking your location, and encrypting your data. This makes it far more difficult for hackers to find out where you are, let alone get any data on who you are and what you are doing.
Different VPNs use different methods of keeping you safe. If you are interested in exactly how they work, you should delve into this explanation of VPN tunneling protocols. You do not need all the extra information, but it will help you keep track of what the software is doing on your devices.
Many people have asked me whether VPNs are legal. The question mostly comes from the sense that by using a VPN, you are indicating you have something to hide. However, there is nothing wrong with keeping your private data secret.
Nonetheless, there are legal implications when using a VPN that you should keep in mind.
VPNs are illegal in some countries
VPNs are perfectly legal in the US and most other countries across the world. However, they are illegal in certain countries, including China, North Korea, Iraq, Russia, and the UAE. What all of these countries have in common is that the government attempts to control what its citizens see online. Criticism of the administration is banned, and content deemed immoral is censored.
In these countries, a VPN can give a citizen access to information that their government is hiding from them. If you are travelling to one of these countries, you can get around the ban by downloading a VPN before you get there.
VPNs are used by some for illegal activity
People generally seek VPNs for one of two reasons: they want to protect their privacy or they want access to content that is either illegal or copyrighted.
A VPN makes it easier for people to download torrents and other content they would otherwise have to pay for. For some, the privacy of a VPN provides more courage to carry out other illegal activities (or to visit illegal websites) without worrying that the FBI will know about it.
Content on streaming services is also often geo-restricted. Because of this, most video streaming services have banned the use of VPNs. However, this is unfair to the vast majority using VPNs for privacy protection, and there are VPNs which get by these bans.
Furthermore, some people use VPNs to attempt to hide criminal activity, inlcuding sex crimes, fraud, and more. This is certainly a problem, but considering our principles of freedom, I think most of us agree that the answer is not a total lack of privacy or the ability to be surveilled at all times. These individuals need to be brought to justice, but that should not come at the cost of our collective freedom.
Even though some people use VPNs for illegal activity, the VPNs themselves are legal. In the same way that you can go out at night even though thieves operate under the cover of darkness, you can protect yourself with a VPN.
Should I use a VPN?
We have established that VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries. But should you use a VPN or should you rather stay away just in case. The answer is, quite simply, that a VPN is a necessary piece of software for your security. It is almost as important as a lock on your front door. Since you face no legal issues, you should be downloading a VPN right now.
VPNs are perfectly legal, and are highly recommended for law-abiding people. It is high time you start protecting yourself from the constant barrage of potential privacy breaches.