You may be wondering if using a VPN service is legal or illegal. Although there may be some VPN companies out there that seem suspicious, the fact is that VPN services and VPN technology is absolutely legal. So no need to worry about purchasing a VPN software. VPN technology is broadly used by big international organizations as a way to connect their employees with the intranet.
On this website, VPN Creative, we focus on commercial VPN providers for regular consumers, ie. casual internet usage. VPN providers like the ones presented on this website are all perfectly legal and operates as legitimate businesses under the legislature of the country they are based in. So there you have it!
What is a VPN and what can it do?
VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network”. It is a secure connection tunnel set up between your device and the web server or service you are trying to access. In this tunnel, all the information that flows through it is encrypted. This means that no one can decipher the data passing through it.
On the Internet, no one is really anonymous. When you access the Internet, an IP address is assigned to you. It is the basis for tracing you and identifying you in case of problems. It also allows us to locate you more or less precisely for anyone who may know your IP.
Thus, you will have understood: some Internet users use a VPN to be able to hide their IP address and thus be much more anonymous. The goal for some is to access illegal content without being detected by anyone.
Needless to say, this is not the only use of a VPN. Other uses are possible and accessing paid content for free is obviously not the number one reason to use these services. Nevertheless, some users take advantage of it for this purpose in a wrong way.
Legal and illegal usages of VPN
Of course the way people use the VPN services is beyond the control of the VPN provider. If your only intention for buying a VPN service is to commit illegal activities, then this is a violation of the terms and agreements. The VPN host has the right to suspend your account and can face a possible investigation by authorities.
VPN are openly advertised primarily because of the internet-anonymity it can offer. A VPN company doesn’t encourage its customers to use its services for illegal acts. Anonymous internet surfing is for the purposes of a secured online payments, online shopping, protects private information and avoids unauthorized access to private data. A VPN user would appear invisible from ISPs and from websites. The ISPs and websites won’t be able to record or monitor any of your internet activities.
You may have heard about the Facebook scandal recently. Facebook was allegedly stealing secure information from its users for marketing purposes. There are even some software applications that are capable of spying on you or introducing viruses to your computer. These are just some of the many issues that internet users can experience. With a VPN service, all the mentioned online threats can be avoided.
In fact, there are only a few software applications considered to be illegal. Say for example file sharing programs and torrent downloaders are not illegal in any way. The thing that makes it illegal is how the files such as films and music were collected. If they were pirated then it is considered illegal.
VPN for entertainment purposes
One of the main features of VPN services is being able to access restricted websites such as movie streaming websites. These restrictions are because of the regional or country differences. With the help of VPN software, you will be able to access any video streaming websites. Torrent file downloading is also allowed by some VPN hosts. Torrent downloading and online video streaming is considered not illegal in any way.
If you want a VPN service, start by researching the market. We have a VPN directory of VPN companies where you can compare the options. Read about VPN reviews to help you decide on what VPN host to choose.
A VPN to watch paid contents for free?
With the avent of mass surveillance over the past two decades, many Internet users got scared. In the mind of the general public, the authorities can check and control everything you do on the Internet. In reality, it is quite different.
Thanks to service providers, your government can monitor Internet users who download torrent files. They then get the IP addresses and ask their ISPs for the identity of the customers to send them a warning. Nevertheless: not all torrents are monitored and this does not concern all movies and series.
When you watch paid content for free while streaming, the authorities have no power. They can’t technically detect who is watching this content at the moment. Nevertheless, some Internet users still prefer to use a VPN to ensure anonymity. In fact, it is not very useful if this is the only reason to use a VPN.
Note however that the idea that VPNs are only used to protect oneself from governments during illegal downloads is false. This is not the most common use of these tools even if it is what is regularly put forward by the media or the VPN services themselves. It is true that for the latter, it has also become a commercial argument.
A VPN to protect you from sites that offer free paid content?
When we see on the internet that a VPN allows to protect you, it’s true. Nevertheless, we must add a nuance and explain precisely how these services protect you and how.
A VPN as explained above will encrypt your connection. You become anonymous and nobody can have access to your IP address which becomes hidden. All the information that passes between your computer and the final site is also encrypted, so it can’t be intercepted.
This is actually where the VPN protects you: it encrypts your information. On a public WiFi network where someone would be able to intercept everything: it has a point. For the rest, it’s quite different. A VPN will not prevent you from downloading a virus for example and it has nothing to do with the role that an antivirus plays on your machine for example.
Nevertheless, some paid VPNs have developed additional security features. Thus, you can as soon as your VPN is activated: block the tracking of advertisements or any malicious download that could take place in the background and automatically.
These filters act as an additional firewall protection. If they are not 100% reliable, they can still block certain websites or services that are potentially dangerous for you. They are then blocked upstream, before you even load them in your browser for example.
If this feature which is available with some VPN providers is interesting, it does not totally protect you from malicious sites. It is simply an interesting additional security feature.
A VPN to watch streaming content and download torrents?
This is now a real marketing argument for these VPNs. They put forward the fact that they can illegally download content without being detected. The same goes for streaming content such as soccer matches. Nevertheless, they never explicitly talk about illegal downloads.
The giants of the sector manage to make themselves known to the general public through innuendo and by highlighting features such as speed optimization for torrent downloads.
From a technical point of view, it is obvious that to watch streaming videos or download torrents, the VPN servers’ speeds must be optimized. However, for streaming or live YouTube, this optimization is the same. It’s just that some VPN servers can handle the bandwidth load better and that’s why they are designated specifically for downloading or streaming by these services.
If it is true that using a VPN makes it easier to go unnoticed by the authorities, downloading protected content remains illegal. However, it has now become a common use for users of these services in order to download pirated content more easily without being detected.
A VPN to browse anonymously on the Internet?
Some Internet users in the US use VPNs as part of their daily browsing. The majority of users of these services obviously do not aim at illegal downloads. Many people are wondering about the legality of these services.
In the US: using a VPN is perfectly legal. It is in fact an important right granted to everyone. You can therefore use a Virtual Private Network service without any problem in order to gain anonymity or for other purposes.
If using a VPN is legal in US, hiding your identity to perform illegal actions is against the law. Clearly, it is forbidden to use these tools to harass an Internet user, download paid content for free, buy illegal products…
A VPN to bypass censorship in some foreign countries?
This obviously concerns everyone since there are other countries where VPNs are forbidden. This is the case in Russia, China or Iran for example. For a use abroad, we advise you to inquire directly about the laws in force in each territory.
In some of these territories, the sanctions can indeed be very important. As you know, nobody is supposed to ignore the law and therefore, it is important to get informed.
Here is a list of countries where VPNs are prohibited by law: China, Russia, Belarus, Iran, Iraq, Oman, North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Turkmenistan.
A VPN to bypass Netflix’s geographical filter?
Many VPN users bypass geographic blocks. Thanks to these services, it is indeed possible to easily pretend that you are connecting from another territory than yours. This allows you to access the American Netflix catalog from abroad, for example. You can thus enjoy different and sometimes more recent content.
Circumventing a geographical block is not really illegal. There is an important legal blur around it. If you bypass broadcasting rights in your country, it is mainly the service you access with a VPN that is responsible for not having put in place the necessary security.
This is one reason why services like Netflix are now trying to block VPN users. You may have already gotten an error message when trying to access content from other countries this way. It’s always a cat-and-mouse game between VPN providers and Netflix, but in the end, we have to say it: Netflix always loses the battle.
A VPN to watch sports streaming?
In recent years, many streaming services have appeared. Very often in the form of an application for computer or smartphone, they offer an incredible access to a catalog of very recent movies and all for free. Some of them also allow you to follow sports events, especially soccer matches, live. Of course, these are illegal.
In addition to being illegal (but the Internet user cannot ignore this), they sometimes work with the Peer-to-peer protocol. If the software makes you believe that you are streaming a movie, it is not. It downloads the movie in the background and as it downloads it shows you what has just been retrieved. For soccer matches, it recovers the video streams from the rights holders and rebroadcasts them in very often degraded conditions.
The real problem with this technique is that it is obviously based on a torrent system. It is then quite possible to easily retrieve the list of IP addresses of Internet users who share the files in question in real time. As you can see, it becomes much easier for the autorities to trace you.
When using these applications, the Internet user can therefore be easily spotted, especially if he or she does not use a VPN. Nevertheless, these services are always successful for several reasons: the interface is pleasant, the choice of films or series is important and above all there is no advertising.
These softwares are actually legal, because they are based on a file exchange system and a P2P protocol which on paper is not particularly made for sharing protected works. However, it is obvious that it is the integrated torrent catalog that is problematic and illegal.
By using these software based on this technology, you risk exactly the same thing as an Internet user who would be downloading a movie illegally in torrent without VPN. Your local authorities will then be able to pursue you and track you down if your IP is visible.