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Complete List of Countries with Banned VPNs (Updated 2023 Version)
In some countries, we’re looking at you China, North Korea, and others, freedom to access the WHOLE internet never became a thing.
Although the internet is considered to be an open, international platform, it’s important to remember that individual countries and territories can put their own laws into place regarding how the web works for their residents.
Many countries put restrictions on internet service providers (ISPs) to control which type of content is blocked through web browsers. For example, a government might choose to ban certain file-sharing sites or online marketplaces.
The easiest way to get around these types of restrictions is with the use of a virtual private network (VPN). With a VPN client set up on your computer or mobile device, you still connect to the internet through your local ISP or cellular provider, but all of your traffic is immediately routed to a third-party server.
The session is fully secured and encrypted, and you’re primary IP address becomes masked to all outside websites.
With a VPN connection, you can actually control what region your IP address is located in, depending on the options offered by your service provider.
For example, if your VPN host has servers set up in the United States, Canada, or Australia, you can choose to connect to any of those access points and receive a localized IP address. Many VPN users take advantage of this option to connect to streaming video services or other applications and websites not allowed in their country.
Of course, there are still ways for a government to control internet usage, even with so many VPN services on the market today. They may work with ISPs to block VPN homepages or restrict VPN connections entirely.
Read on to learn what types of restrictions are enforced by different countries. The list below is given in order of the fastest internet speeds worldwide.
Countries with Banned VPNs
The South Korean government does not restrict VPN usage for its citizens. However, it does partake in internet censorship, as it blocks many websites related to North Korea or pornography.
In Norway, there are no blocks placed on VPN websites or clients. The country is considered to have a very open internet policy, although recent rulings have resulted in the Norwegian government blocking several of the top file-sharing and torrenting websites, including The Pirate Bay.
Sweden’s residents have full access to the world wide web and can connect to any VPN services. The country’s constitution supports the freedom of speech and press, and as a result, there is little to none internet censorship within Sweden.
Despite being geographically located within China, where internet usage is highly monitored and censored, citizens of Hong Kong have free access to the open web. ISPs in Hong Kong do not restrict VPN usage, regardless of where the host server is located.
Although VPNs are not blocked in Switzerland, the country has added more and more internet restrictions in recent years. The federal supreme court issues rulings on a case-by-case basis. In particular, the country has been cracking down on gambling websites.
The use of VPN services is fully legal for Finland citizens. However, the government has employed certain filtering systems to force ISPs to block websites that focus on file sharing or online gambling.
Singapore is considered to have a relatively restrictive approach to internet censorship, but VPN tools are not blocked for its citizens. Torrenting sites like The Pirate Bay have been blocked in Singapore, and several instances of online racist comments have resulted in criminal cases.
Japanese citizens have full access to the web and can make use of any VPN hosting service. This is thanks to its laws for freedom of speech and the press. Certain ISPs in Japan have instituted policies for filtering inappropriate content to its customers.
VPNs are legal to use in the United Kingdom, but that does not mean they are as anonymous as you might think. The UK has a law called the Investigatory Powers Act, which requires ISPs to retain customer data and make it available in cases where national surveillance is required. VPN companies operating their servers within the UK are tied to this policy, though citizens can still connect to hosts in other countries.
In the past, the UK government has blocked online access to file-sharing services where pirated content is known to be hosted. Also, some of the largest UK ISPs pass all of their traffic through filters that will block illegal websites and display a web browser error when a user tries to access them.
VPN clients are fully legal in the United States of America. Certain internet regulations can actually be controlled by individual states, but overall the US has maintained an open approach to internet censorship.
With that said, the United States has been recently tagged as an enemy of the internet by certain international groups. This is due in large part to the country’s history in online surveillance on its citizens. In addition, the government’s latest decision to repeal the net neutrality legislation could result in ISPs gaining more power to restrict access for their customers.
The Netherlands have a very open approach to internet usage and does not put any blocks or restrictions on VPN usage. The country’s supreme court has in the past ordered the largest ISPs to block certain file-sharing tools like The Pirate Bay, but net neutrality still remains the objective in the Netherlands.
Romania has no history of ever restricting the use of VPN services. Its citizens have full access to the open internet, expect in rare cases of gambling websites that have been filtered by the government.
Residents of the Czech Republic are considered to have complete freedom when it comes to internet browsing, including the use of VPN hosts in other regions. Individual ISPs in the Czech Republic may consider the filtering of specific websites if complaints are lodged by their customers.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has specific laws written regarding how citizens can use VPN services. Although VPNs are not blocked entirely, any activity performed through a VPN that is found to be illegal will result in a penalty of jail time and a large fine.
Taiwan offers its citizens full access to the uncensored internet, including the ability to use VPNs to mask IP addresses. ISPs in Taiwan do not monitor customer traffic or block file-sharing services.
Latvia’s constitution includes the rights of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. As a result, internet restrictions are minimal in Latvia and VPNs can be used freely. The government does not perform any surveillance on their citizens’ internet usage of email data.
The Belgium government has no history of restricting the use of VPN clients. The country does however have certain laws in place that require ISPs to filter out web content that is deemed immoral or illegal. This has included gambling websites and file-sharing applications.
Although there has been some speculation that the largest ISPs in Canada may make an effort to restrict VPN usage, this has not happened to date. The government has an organization that works to flag illegal websites, but outside of that filtering, Canadian citizen have full access to the internet.
VPN services are available in Thailand without any restrictions. However, the country is considered to have a very restrictive censorship policy, which has increased in recent years. A large portion of the filtering that occurs within Thailand is related to politics. The government can block any website that is deemed to be insulting or unflattering to the King.
Citizens of Ireland should experience no issues when using a VPN client to access secure networks and mask their IP address. The country has minimal web browsing restrictions, aside from a few file-sharing websites that are currently blocked by the government.
The country of Belarus has been previously tagged as an enemy of the internet and its government has taken steps to restrict VPN usage by its citizens. The government owns the primary ISP and maintains strict control over how the internet can be used. Recently, VPN websites have been lumped together with torrenting clients by Belorussian authorities. Citizens can be punished for using VPN clients or for trying to access certain foreign websites.
In Iraq, VPN providers are generally banned. This means that any attempt to access a VPN provider’s homepage or any attempt to launch a VPN client connection will be terminated by the ISP. If you are able to find a VPN service that circumvents the restrictions, be aware that your activity will be monitored and you could be prosecuted for using a VPN.
The Iranian government has strict legislation when it comes to how VPNs can be used. They are not technically illegal, but citizens are only allowed to sign up for VPN services that have been previously approved by the government. In many ways this defeats the purpose of a VPN, since the government-approved options will likely block much of the same content as normal ISPs.
Iran has been labeled as an enemy of the internet, mainly due to their filtering laws that will block certain political and religious content from all citizens. Many social networks are also blocked entirely in Iran.
China is notorious for restricting the internet usage of its citizens. The firewall that the government has put in place blocks many of the most popular websites hosted in the United States. When it comes to VPNs, China will often block the primary homepage of VPN providers. This will make it difficult for citizens to download the associated VPN client, although it may not block outgoing connections entirely.
In regards to mobile devices, a number of VPN apps have been forcibly removed from China’s app stores for iOS and Android. The Chinese government also blocks many websites related to contentious political activities or historical events.
Nor surprisingly, North Korea has some of the strictest internet regulations worldwide. Not much is known about how exactly their laws are enforced, but it is safe to assume that external VPNs hosted in other countries are not allowed. All websites in North Korea are managed by the government and there is no access to the wider web.
In the past, the government of Oman has blocked many of the top VPN providers that host their services in outside countries. The government filters any web content that it deems immoral, and this includes VPNs and other tools designed to make IP addresses anonymous.
Citizens of Turkey have limited access to the world wide web, as the government has taken measures to control the types of content allowed through its filter. Many of the most popular VPN services are blocked in Turkey, and residents are not allowed to redirect their web traffic through foreign servers.
Social media is also heavily regulated in Turkey, with several platforms banned entirely. In the past, citizens have been punished for comments made on a social network.
At this time, the Russian government’s policy on VPNs is to block the homepages of individual service providers. Actual VPN traffic with masked IP addresses is not blocked, so Russian citizens simply need to find a method of obtaining a secure VPN tool. The country does operate a wide-ranging blacklist of other blocked websites, including any content the government considers to be illegal.
The Denmark government has never made any attempts to block VPN connections originating within its borders. When it comes to internet filtering, there are certain domain name system (DNS) restrictions in place, mostly around drug websites and file-sharing tools.
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