In comparison to the earlier past, risks and incidents of data breaches have seen a rise. As such, VPN or Virtual Private Networks has become a popular trend as a countermeasure against it. The concept holds promises since it allows you to keep your identity safe from your Internet provider. However, what goes under the hood is nothing less from confusing to downright, suspicious. For example, the network that promotes safety by keeping your activity hidden from prying eyes also acts as a channel to unsanctioned copyrighted material.
Also, although most ISPs have safeguards in place to ensure that its network security professionals do not snoop on a user’s activity and steal any private information, it’s certainly not possible to keep a tight overview. Generally, your ISP can see all of your Internet activity when you’re connected to its network.
Taking the cue from this, some governments around the world have banned or placed some restrictions on the use of VPN software. Below is the list of countries that restrict or do not allow or permit the use of VPN technology with some restrictions.
Why do countries ban VPN?
There are many reasons why countries ban VPNs. The major reason for this is censorship and to stop illegal activities on the internet. There are many advantages of VPN. But some people who do illegal activities on the internet can use VPN to hide themselves from the Government. But if you think that Government cannot track you while using the VPN, you are wrong. If the Government has banned VPN in your country, you should not use it as it will put you in trouble.
Countries that have banned VPN
It doesn’t come across as a surprise to many when the names of the following countries are mentioned in the banned VPN list. The laws and restrictions over the use of the Internet in many such countries are opaque.
- Belarus – The country has banned both TOR and VPN services, since 2015. It is also illegal to visit foreign websites in this republic. If ignored, the action has severe repercussions. A fine equal to half the average salary of $120 is liable to be imposed.
- China– It is one of the restrictive countries in the world when it comes to free internet access. As such, only government-approved VPNs can be used. Setting up a VPN or similar connection in local areas can carry a fine of over $2,000.
- Egypt – Western nations believe, Egypt has scant regard for online freedom. Its Government led by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has passed an Anti-Cyber And Information Technology Crimes law that authorizes the Government to block websites it deems are a threat to national security. It has also activated Deep Packet inspection after the Egyptian Revolution in 2011 in order to block VPN connections.
- Iran – Although there is no complete ban over VPN use, citizens can have access to only government-approved VPNs. To prosecute users who are violating state laws or using a VPN that is not compliant with Iranian law, a jail sentence of 91 days or up to 1 year of incarceration can be awarded.
- Iraq – The Republic of Iraq has issued a full ban on all VPNs. No individual or corporate entity may use them with zero exceptions. However the law is not clear today and so using VPNs remains a dangerous proposition there.
- North Korea – As a tourist, you can have access to VPN software, but it is banned for locals. Although, there’s no punishment known to us for its violation, any attempt to gain unsanctioned access to the Web can cause immense trouble.
- Oman – VPN was banned in Oman since the primary use of the service was often used to bypass ISP censorship and the prohibition of the use of VOIP. A few also used it to fake their IP location as the services were available in few regions only. Since 210, the personal use of a VPN has been declared illegal and carries a fine of over a thousand dollars. So, it is advisable to keep away from VPNs if you live in Oman, or unfortunately, if you’re planning to visit this sultanate.
- Russia – Laws framed in ‘Russian Federation’ are meant to block access only to ‘unlawful content’. Only government-approved VPNs are allowed. The restriction is not intended to impose restrictions on law-abiding citizens. However, there are penalties prescribed for both unauthorized VPN providers and VPN users. 700,000 RUB ($12,000) for the former and up to 300,000 RUB ($5,100) for the latter.
- Syria – The government of Syria, has carried out extensive and repeated internet shutdowns since 2011. This makes the country in middle-east one of the worst countries for internet censorship and accessibility. Censorship mainly targets different VPN protocols like OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP.
- Turkmenistan – The government of Turkmenistan is one of the most repressive in the world. So, it hardly stuns someone if the use of a VPN in Turkmenistan is completely banned. It is subject to total censorship. The country has only one ISP which belongs to its government. The government uses imprisonment, travel bans, and other arbitrary punishments as tools for violators who attempt to use proxy servers and VPN.
- Turkey – Turkish government, forces heavy censorship on Internet use. As such, it blocks sites like Tor and some VPN providers.
- United Arab Emirates – VPN was restrictively banned in UAE since people used free VOIP services like Skype, WhatsApp. Only government-approved VPNs are allowed. This restriction is for private individuals, however, corporates may use VPNs with no restrictions. Anyone found guilty of violating the provisions is punishable a sentence to imprisonment or a fine of up to $400,000 depending on the nature of the crime.
- Uganda – There currently is no legislation against VPNs in Uganda. However, the Uganda Communications Commission has ordered telecommunication companies to block Virtual Private Networks (VPN) applications that are aiding Ugandans to evade social media tax.
- Venezuela – The Latin American nation too has ramped up censorship with the Tor ban. The country’s largest ISP, state-owned CANTV, banned Tor. It was believed, Venezuelans were using VPN networks to bypass sanctions and get access to national and international news sites.
If you are aware of more such countries where VPN is restricted, banned or blocked for use, let us know in the comments section below.