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Starting to think about your holiday plans? Here are the countries that have banned VPN service.
In this day and age, the majority of our daily lives centre around being online, which means we part with plenty of personally identifiable information, without even realising it. Both at home and when abroad for business or pleasure, it’s vital we protect our online activity from those with malicious intent. While many people opt to use a VPN to encrypt their connection,
From sharing life-updates and images on social media to submitting banking and payment information and even sensitive information over email, we need to protect ourselves online. However, in some countries, using a VPN service could land you with a hefty fine, or even imprisonment; with this in mind, we felt it was important to make you aware which countries aren’t fans of VPNs to avoid landing in hot water.
Or jail. ‘Or jail’ – two words guaranteed to make you sit up and pay attention. Before we start – some of the countries listed might not come as a surprise AT ALL.
The Chinese Government are known for heavily regulating and censoring the internet, and Facebook, YouTube and Google are all forbidden, along with a long list of other websites. From within mainland China, you can only access Government-approved content, everything else is blocked in an attempt to regulate cross-border data flow.
The Chinese Government realised that individuals could use VPNs to get past the ‘great firewall of China’ and subsequently banned the use of VPN services by calling on ISPs to block server access to VPN businesses.
Punishments can vary between provinces, with Chongqing fining users of virtual private networks $2,210. While not necessarily considered ‘illegal’, a user must be registered with the government before they can use a VPN and they will relinquish their right to a VPN’s associated privacy, and their usage will be monitored.
1-10 how surprised are you that Russia has banned VPNs? It’s never been known as a state that encourages freedom or views that aren’t aligned with those of the Russian government.
In November 2017, Vladmir Putin exercised his right as president to impose restrictions on tools and services that enable proxy avoidance, included in this law are VPNs and anonymous proxy servers. True to form, this band has been put in place to control access to news, information and other content that is considered unacceptable by those in power.
Do we need to clearly state that VPNs are banned in North Korea? Probably not.
Another country not known for its relaxed approach to the freedom of its citizens, in fact North Korea is one of the most extreme countries in the world when it comes to control on internet communications. Citizens are barely allowed access to the internet at all, and it seems that its only government employees that make up the 0.3% of people that access the internet.
However, its not all doom and gloom, if you find yourself in North Korea and wanting to access some web content then you can take yourself over to the government run intranet, consisting of 28 websites including a ‘foodie’ website, insurance company and sports site.
Given the extent of punishments and penalties issued by the states for other ‘crimes’, we wouldn’t like to speculate the penalty for being caught using a VPN.
Despite being free from the dictating regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has failed to become stable, due to the presence of ISIS.
The terror cell is known for their use of social media in recruitment efforts, and to spread propaganda. It an attempt to prevent this, the Iraqi government blocked access to social media platforms Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and search engine giant, Google.
In a country where the internet has previously been banned entirely, you can use common sense to identify the fact that VPNs are banned, and should you be caught using one to access blocked content then we can imagine that the penalty would be far from pleasant.
A popular holiday destination for many, Turkey is considered to be a relatively ‘free’ country, and while for many years, Turkey was great friends with the western world, the fact it’s not been successful in becoming part of the EU, may have soured relations.
2016 seemed to be the year that the Turkish government took a disliking to social media, with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp being blocked, parts of Wikipedia becoming unreachable, LGBT threads in Reddit being censored, a Google anti-trust investigation being launched between 2016-2017.
2018 saw DNS services, BlogSpot and Periscope services all blocked and interrupted too, you can find a real-time list of internet actions in Turkey on the Turkey Blocks website.
VPNs were added to the ‘banned’ list in December 2016 along with TOR and have since continued to roll out new sets of bans that specifically target VPN services.
Despite parting ways with Russia in 1991, Belarus are displaying integrity to their previous partners views when it comes to accessing any content its citizens desire.
In 2012, president Lukashenko announced that it was illegal to purchase from, and even access foreign internet sites, and firms that sell to the citizens of Belarus must register with a Belarusian domain name. Businesses that offer citizens access to the internet such as internet cafes, computer clubs or libraries are responsible for reporting customers that visit foreign sites and not doing so will result in fines.
In 2015, the control of internet access was further bolstered with laws that forced internet service providers to monitor user activity and keep records. The use of a VPN is also banned and will result in a fine.
While technology itself isn’t banned, there are strict sanctions in place with many of these countries when it comes to what it is used for, that mainly relates to freedom of speech or the risk of coming under scrutiny from global media. Maybe their Governments could be a little conservative, perhaps strict and just maybe they aren’t don’t approve of individuals having opposed or non-conforming views?
The countries that have banned VPN, may have also banned social media and investigative and citizen journalism. While Governments may report that VPNs are illegal because of the way that encrypt information can aid criminal activity, its largely thought that it’s a method of controlling the information that the citizens of that country have access to.
All in all, while we firmly believe the internet should be a safe and limitless place for everyone, we have to accept that this simply isn’t the case, and it seems that in some cases it might be better to abide by a countries rules than risk receiving the associated punishment.