In some states, VPN companies are banned, and there are political reasons for that. The reality of the industry is that VPNs often go against some of the policies enforced by specific governments. Many issues prevent people from seeing particular content. Let’s talk about restrictions in different countries.
Why Are VPN Services illegal in Some Countries?
VPN service became staples for many people when it comes to Internet security and anonymity. With the number of restrictions and geo-locking in the modern Internet, people are trying to find some workarounds, and VPNs are there to help. With some top VPN service providers like Cyberghost, torrenting, Netflix and other geo-restricted resources are within arm’s reach. VPN is also a good solution to protect your online freedom that became questionable. The recent outcry towards the potential limitation of the Net Neutrality by the US government is a perfect demonstration of our point.
The freedom of speech is one of the fundamental rights established by modern western societies. People want to know the truth, and many want to speak out when they feel necessary. Freedom, in general, is a very important aspect of the existence of any human being. It means that any attempt to somehow limit the liberty is a direct assault on individuals and the well-being of people in general.
In some countries, freedom is a very vague term. While people may seem to be free, the reality is that the environment is full of governmental control. Every single aspect of the social and political life of citizens is under constant scrutiny from various agencies. I don’t want to dive deep into politics. Many issues are very delicate and demand special treatment. However, some problems cannot be ignored.
Let’s take a closer look at a list of countries that have some restrictions towards VPNs. Here they are in no particular order: Iraq; Ukraine; Turkey; Iran and Russia.
There are also countries that try to limit the usage of VPNs without producing laws and policies. For example, Belarus partially blocks the usage of TOR and VPNs. China is very hostile towards VPN providers but allows some of them to operate within their country if they receive a special license that both costs a lot and does not truly provide full access to some content.
The Russian Hustle
While the law that was produced by the Russian Duma caused a lot of rumors, the reality is that it wasn’t used even once since it was released in November of 2017. The law is not a prohibition of all VPN services and proxy servers. It is a legal instrument that was designed to allow Russian special agencies to ask specific service providers to cut access to particular content if needed.
This tool was not used even once since 2017. While many people think that the Russian government is very protective of their secrets and wants to shut down any conspiracies, the country did not attempt to block anonymous access to various blocked articles and reports. The blocks are seemingly used to prevent the widespread of specific information.
You can use VPNs in Russia and Belarus without any significant restrictions. The vast majority of companies will be more than happy to provide with access to servers in the country as well. However, recently, PIA (one of the well-known providers) seized its activities in Russia under circumstances that are not yet made clear. While it was a concerning sign that VPN operators are under more pressure in Russia, the truth is still not fully out. We cannot speculate about that.
Again, the law against VPNs in Russia is designed to allow special intelligence agencies like FSB to deny access to very specific data on the VPN provider’s end. It is not the biggest of issues.
The Middle East
Several countries in the Middle East prohibit the usage of VPNs due to political or security reasons. For example, Iran is a very restrictive country where many aspects of political and social life are controlled by the government. Again, we are not against such practices. Each state does what it thinks best for its citizens.
Iran and Oman take full control over the Internet and prohibits the use of VPNs and proxy servers. Iran has its VPN service that is fully controlled by the government. The true effectiveness of such a provider is very questionable. The jury is still out on many aspects of Iran’s and Oman’s policies towards the freedom of speech.
The UAE is also very protective of its segment of the Internet. Local users have to pay a significant fee for using a VPN. This fee can go up to $500. However, reasons here are less political than in many other Middle Eastern countries. The local government wants to protect providers of telecommunications. VOIP and Discord, as well as many IP-telephony providers, can easily outmatch local operators concerning prices making it harder for telecommunication companies to turn in profits.
China and Its Laws
The Chinese government is notorious for its restrictive policies and harsh punishments for those who do not comply with rules established by the government. One of the current problems is that the country wants to be a little bit more open for westerners, but it wants to keep a public eye on many aspects of life in their country. The Internet is a very concerning environment for China. The Internet is where many rumors and memes become weapons in the hands of the opposition.
China would be glad to shut down the freedom of the Internet completely, but they cannot do it due to how it depends on the Internet to be that massive supplier of goods for people from all over the world. China decided to take a careful approach and limited the extent of operations of various VPN providers that want to work in the country.
While there are limitations, the world is still not as restrictive as we once feared. VPN providers can work freely in the overwhelming majority of countries. There is only a handful of places on Earth where the Internet is not free (North Korea and Iran come to mind).
Avi Carpenter tested multiple VPN brands and has been working as an independent consultant for years. He is a free-lancing business advisor and enthusiastic VPN activist with extensive experience in the industry. Thanks to his incredible knowledge regarding legal aspects of VPN use, Avi can provide a deep insight into the current situation in the VPN service industry.