The Political War on VPNs

The Political War on VPNs

Windscribe Administrator

The tug of war over virtual private networks (VPNs) is heating up. 

VPNs, which keep our online activities private and secure, are now in the crosshairs of governments everywhere. While they’re essential for online privacy, some authorities argue they’re also a backdoor for illegal activities and avoiding digital eyes. 

This phenomenon has sparked a fierce debate. As some countries move to tighten the leash with bans and stricter rules, what does this mean for our internet freedom? 

In this article, we’re diving deep into why VPNs are suddenly political hot potatoes, the impact on our digital rights, and how the world is reacting. 

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a technology that creates a secure, encrypted connection over the internet from a device to a network. 

This encryption makes sure that sensitive data is safely transmitted over the internet. It prevents unauthorized people from eavesdropping on traffic and allows users to work remotely.

Windscribe VPN
We have loads of locations you can connect to (Image Source)

VPN technology is widely used in corporate environments to protect sensitive data. But it’s also becoming popular among individual users who wish to safeguard their privacy online, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks.

How? It can route the device’s internet connection through the VPN’s private server instead of the internet service provider (ISP). That’s the secret to hiding an IP address, making online actions virtually untraceable.

For a VPN connection to work, a user needs to access servers that are functioning correctly. That’s why they depend greatly on an efficient data center. 

A data center that optimizes energy and space usage by using software like Nlyte for effective infrastructure management and monitoring of energy and thermal efficiency will ensure VPN providers the ability to keep their services running properly and for long periods.

The Argument for Banning VPNs

Some governments and organizations argue for banning VPNs due to security concerns and the enforcement of internet policies. They believe VPNs make it challenging to check internet use and enforce laws online. 

As we mentioned, VPNs allow users to hide their IP addresses and encrypt their internet traffic, making it difficult to track their online activities.

Authorities argue that this can be exploited for illegal activities, such as accessing banned content, conducting cyber attacks, or bypassing internet censorship and geo-restrictions.

From their perspective, banning VPNs is a measure to maintain national security, protect copyright, and uphold local internet regulations. However, this approach raises significant debates about privacy, freedom of expression, and the right to access information.

For instance, VPN restrictions could disproportionately impact community college students, who often rely on online learning due to affordability and accessibility, hindering their academic progress and exacerbating educational inequalities.

The Argument Against Banning VPNs

Arguments against banning VPNs focus on the importance of online privacy, security, and freedom on the internet.

VPNs protect personal information from hackers, especially on unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi. They help safeguard sensitive data, such as passwords and financial information, by encrypting internet traffic — things a simple incognito mode can’t do.

Incognito mode meme
Incognito mode makes people feel secure without actually being secure (Image Source)

Furthermore, VPNs are essential for maintaining free access to information, enabling users to bypass censorship and access the global internet without restrictions.

Critics of VPN bans argue that such measures infringe on individual rights to privacy and freedom of speech. They contend that VPNs are vital for journalists, activists, and ordinary users in oppressive regimes, allowing them to communicate safely and access important information. 

Therefore, banning VPNs could have far-reaching implications for personal freedoms and the open exchange of information.

That’s why at Windscribe, we’ve implemented the “Circumvent Censorship” feature to help stand up against the global fight against government censorship.

Circumvent Censorship feature in Wordscribe VPN
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Windscribe remains dedicated to being completely unblockable. We remain steadfast in our opposition to censorship and are continuously working to enhance our services to promote an open internet for everyone.

Which Countries Ban VPNs?

At the time of writing this article, here are the VPN policies of various states worldwide.


Russia’s historic policy on VPNs has been increasingly restrictive over the years. 

The government began its crackdown on VPN services in 2017 when President Vladimir Putin signed a law prohibiting VPNs and other technologies that allow users to access banned websites without government approval.

This law was officially intended to prevent Russian citizens from accessing “unlawful content.” Still, critics argue it significantly oversteps that by stifling the free flow of information and limiting internet freedom.

Russia is set to intensify its control over internet access within its borders by enforcing a full ban on VPNs starting in March 2024.


The Chinese government requires all VPN services to be licensed and approved by the state. In other words, it effectively bans unauthorized VPNs that allow unrestricted access to the global internet. 

This policy is enforced under the Great Firewall of China, a comprehensive system of legal and technological measures used to regulate the Internet domestically.

The government’s stance on VPNs is aimed at preventing access to content considered harmful to social stability or contrary to state interests, including:

  • Social media platforms not approved by the Chinese authorities
  • Information sources outside government control
  • Streaming services
  • Foreign news sites


The Iraqi government has declared VPNs illegal. Authorities defend this decision as a crucial measure for maintaining national security and curbing the dissemination of extremist content on the internet. 


The Iranian government allows the use of authorized VPNs but blocks or restricts access to unauthorized VPN services that enable users to bypass internet censorship.

This policy aligns with Iran’s extensive internet filtering practices. The aim is to restrict access to a wide range of content considered inappropriate or threatening to the government’s stability and Islamic values. 

The authorities monitor and control internet traffic to prevent access to:

  • Social media platforms not approved by the government
  • Sources of information considered harmful
  • International news sites


In Yemen, VPNs are legal, but they can’t be used for things deemed illegal by the country–such as viewing pornography. 


Like in Yemen, using a VPN in Egypt is technically allowed — but you can’t use it to access websites they’ve blocked.


While not outright banning the technology, the UAE’s laws focus on restricting VPN use to prevent activities considered unlawful by the government. 

Specifically, using VPNs in the UAE is legal only for legitimate purposes. That said, individuals and businesses can use VPNs to secure corporate networks and protect personal information online.

However, the UAE strictly prohibits using VPNs to commit crimes or prevent crime discovery. For example, bypassing regional restrictions to access services and content blocked in the UAE, such as gambling websites, pornography, and VoIP services not licensed by the government. 


The Belarusian government has implemented laws and regulations that allow for monitoring and restricting internet activities, including using VPNs to bypass state-imposed censorship. 

These measures have been intensified in response to political unrest and mass protests, with the authorities seeking to prevent the dissemination of information that could mobilize opposition movements.

In practice, this has meant blocking access to VPN services that enable users to circumvent internet restrictions and targeting individuals and organizations that utilize or provide such services. 


Uzbekistan has historically had a tight grip on internet access, with the government censoring content it considers politically sensitive or harmful to public morals. Although VPNs are legal, you can’t use them to access censored content.


Qatar imposes internet restrictions, particularly on content related to pornography. As with Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Egypt, VPN use is allowed but not for accessing illegal sites.

North Korea

North Korea has one of the most restrictive internet environments in the world. VPNs are illegal, with most people only accessing a domestic intranet known as Kwangmyong, with streaming services and other sites blocked.


Turkmenistan heavily censors the internet, blocking access to many foreign news sites and social media platforms. The government controls all internet access within the country, making VPNs illegal.


VPNs aren’t illegal in the country, but the motivation to use them is strong. This is because the government taxes people for using social media — which is why people get a VPN to circumvent this tax — as VPNs hide IP addresses.


The government of Turkey has intensified its efforts to regulate internet usage. While VPN services that are officially registered can function within Turkey, authorities frequently block access to content they deem unacceptable.


No law specifically prohibits VPN usage in Oman–yet businesses need permission before using them. The lack of VPN laws means the public can use it (technically) but not access restricted content.

Current Legislation in the US and UK Regarding VPNs

In the United States, there are no federal laws specifically prohibiting the use of VPNs. This allows individuals and businesses to use VPNs for various legitimate purposes, including enhancing online privacy, securing internet connections, and accessing geo-restricted content. 

The most common reason people purchase a VPN is to improve security
Ironically, these anti-VPN laws are for "security," yet that's mainly why people use VPNs (Image Source)

However, while using VPNs themselves is legal, engaging in illegal activities while using a VPN is still against the law.

US laws concerning copyright infringement, hacking, and other cybercrimes apply to online activities conducted with or without a VPN. 

Additionally, the US has regulations that affect how companies can collect and use data, which can impact VPN providers, especially regarding logging policies and user privacy.

In the UK, VPNs are also legal to use. The country recognizes the importance of VPNs for privacy, security, and overcoming geographical internet restrictions. Similar to the US, the legality of a VPN in the UK doesn’t extend to illegal online activities — using a VPN to commit or facilitate criminal acts remains against the law.

The UK has enacted legislation such as the Investigatory Powers Act, known informally as the “Snoopers’ Charter,” raising concerns about privacy and surveillance. This law grants the government broad powers to monitor and collect internet communication data, affecting how VPNs can be used to protect privacy. Despite this, using VPNs for lawful purposes remains legal and widely adopted for personal and business use.

Is a VPN Right for You?

VPNs can be valuable for safeguarding your privacy with their robust security features, especially in areas with weak Wi-Fi security.

Additionally, suppose your company allows you to work from abroad or you’re self-employed and looking to relocate. In that case, you may need a reliable VPN to continue working safely and without restrictions.

Despite its advantages, it’s crucial to use them within the remits of the law and research the laws of any country you intend to visit.

Given the importance of maintaining online privacy and security, adopting a robust VPN service like Windscribe VPN is a prudent step. 

Windscribe Administrator