[ inspired by article posted on the German version of the CyberGhost blog by Ulrich Brügmann; access the original article here ]
In some countries, topless sunbathing is frowned upon and strictly prohibited. Such a place is Egypt. In other countries, wearing a burqa is not allowed. That kind of place is France. Winter tires are also source for controversy, as using them during summer can lead to certain fines in Italy.
If such things leave room for debate, it comes as no surprise that tools such as VPNs are frowned upon in certain places, especially since they were created to protect our identities online, thus not allowing others to spy on us and maybe to control us easier.
Why are VPNs banned?
The reasons/pretexts for which VPNs are banned vary. The most widespread ones are terrorism, child pornography distribution, spreading malware, committing fraud or other illegal activities. Such a measure may save time and effort when catching certain felons, but it could expose many innocents to various types of cybercrimes.
However, this VPN ban is taken very seriously in the countries which have adopted it. Harsh punishments can be applied to those violating it, including simple tourists.
What forms of punishments are applied?
If you take the following excerpt from the United Arab Emirates’ federal law, you will notice that breaking the VPN ban is in no way regarded lightly:
“Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dhs 500,000 [US$136,000] and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000 [US$544,500] of either of these two penalties.”
One could probably say that the law only refers to “fraudulent” uses of a VPN, but how can a person prove they’re not doing anything illegal, while their traffic is encrypted with a VPN?
What other countries have VPN bans?
At the moment, apart from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Russia have made the use of VPN services illegal. Some countries like China will allow the use of approved VPN services.
What’s CyberGhost’s stance on this?
We strongly believe that such restrictive measures are against our basic rights as human beings. However, as digital freedom fighters, we do not encourage anyone to undertake illicit activities in order to bypass these laws, as they will have to go through unwanted consequences. Before doing anything that could be deemed as against the law, inform yourself and act accordingly.
CyberGhost is strongly aware that the identification of VPN connections is a new threat and is working to provide a solution to offer users the best and safest tool for a free Internet for those living in or visiting such countries.
In the meantime, to avoid re-debiting affected subscriptions, the automatic renewal should be disabled in your account management section. In our FAQ, you will find a step-step-by-step guide for the temporary or permanent termination of a prepaid subscription.
Please do not hesitate to contact us via Support for further questions. If you cannot reach us via our website, because the entire CyberGhost network is blocked in your location, try getting in touch with us via social media like Facebook or Twitter.