Is Using a VPN Illegal in Canada?

Today, more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers that the cyber world presents. The internet has simplified virtually every aspect of our lives, but it also made us and our data vulnerable to attacks by threat actors. It seems like every month, there’s a new hacking attack or threat we need to worry about. Many people are now looking for ways to protect their data and mitigate cybersecurity concerns. One of the most popular methods to protect your online data is to use a VPN service.

You’ve probably seen many articles and ads telling you how a VPN can help do things like protect your Internet activity when you use public Wi-Fi, keep sensitive information like bank account details from falling into the wrong hands, and even allow you to stream shows and use services that are not normally available in your region. All of this makes VPNs sound like a terrific solution to your online problems, but many people wonder: are VPNs legal in Canada? We’ve collected everything you need to know about this topic below.

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Is VPN Legal in Canada?

The short answer is yes, VPN services are completely legal to use in Canada and most other Western democracies as long as you don’t break any other laws with your internet activity. You can safely use a VPN service in any Canadian province without worrying about getting into legal trouble.

Here are some of the most common and completely legitimate reasons why you could use virtual private network services:

  • Preventing corporations, organizations, and governments from tracking, recording, and analyzing your internet activity.
  • Protecting your devices and data from viruses and hacking attacks by threat actors when using public Wi-Fi connections.
  • Creating an additional level of security and privacy for your internet connection and communications, especially in business and government settings.
  • Streaming content that’s not available in your country on Hulu, YouTube, HBO Max, or similar platforms.
  • Hiding your browsing activity from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The Copyright Modernization Act requires Canadian ISPs to store information about their users’ browsing activity for six months. So if you want to prevent ISPs from monitoring what you do online, you can use a VPN service.

If you’re looking for the best VPN services in Canada, check out VPN reviews on our website.

VPN Usage Exceptions

While using a VPN is legal in Canada, there are some situations when you may not be able to perform certain actions while your VPN is active. For instance, banks and payment services like PayPal take measures to detect VPN usage among their clients, and they will block transactions carried out using a VPN. This measure is necessary to prevent fraud, whether on the part of a client or a third party trying to get access to a customer’s account.

Some content streaming platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC) also prohibit their users from using VPN services to circumvent geographical restrictions. However, there are tricks VPN users can utilize to bypass their anti-VPN efforts.

Using VPN to Break the Law is Illegal

If you’re considering using a VPN service to protect your online browsing activity, you should keep in mind that doing this is only legal if you’re not breaking the law. If you’re running a VPN in the hopes of remaining undetected while carrying out illegal online activities, you should know that this will not stop the government from tracking you down and prosecuting you. A VPN will make it harder for law enforcement to find you, but it will not help you escape justice. Thus, you should never use VPNs for hacking, cyber fraud, downloading pirated content, buying or selling illegal substances, watching or spreading illegal content, etc. Doing anything on this list in the online world can lead to you spending a lot of time in prison in the real world.

Some Countries Prohibit the Use of VPN Services

While VPNs are perfectly legal in Canada and most other democratic countries, some governments around the world strictly prohibit or restrict their use, so you need to be careful when traveling. Here is a brief overview of VPN laws in countries that regulate the use of VPNs, beginning with some of the most restrictive:

  • North Korea. Unsurprisingly, North Korea has outlawed the use of VPNs and all other tools that can be used to access restricted content in the country. Most people in the country don’t have access to the global Internet, and instead connect to the country’s intranet, called Kwangmyong. Attempting to use a VPN in this country can result in jail time.
  • China. The Chinese government heavily restricts users in the country from browsing outside content. However, the country hasn’t outlawed the use of VPN services completely because they are very useful for business purposes. Instead, the Chinese government only allows licenced and heavily restricted VPN providers to operate in the country. Therefore, while using a VPN in China is possible, the capabilities of the service you use will likely be minimal.
  • Iraq. VPN services are illegal to use in Iraq, and you can be imprisoned for breaking this law. The country also frequently bans unwanted apps and websites.
  • Belarus. All technology that allows users to stay anonymous online is illegal in Belarus. This includes VPNs and anonymous browsers like Tor. This law has been in place since 2015. The country also has a history of blocking apps and websites that are deemed to be dangerous.
  • Russia. In 2017, the Russian government prohibited VPN services from helping users access websites banned or blacklisted by the country. However, there’s no evidence that this law has been enforced at any point. VPN use by individuals has also become very widespread in the country after social media networks like Instagram were banned by the government. Thus, while you should exercise caution when using a VPN in Russia, you most likely won’t face any issues.
  • Turkmenistan. This country outlawed the use of VPN and proxy services in 2015. They are blocked by Turkmenet, the government-operated ISP.
  • Oman. This country only permits government-authorized VPN services, which collect user activity logs to operate in the country.
  • UAE. The use of VPNs in the UAE is legal. However, actions like video calling or viewing adult films using a VPN are illegal.
  • Egypt. Just like UAE, this country allows VPNs but prohibits their use for accessing content deemed to be immoral.
  • Turkey. VPN use in Turkey is legal but many websites and apps are prohibited.

As you can see, not all countries around the world are as liberal as Canada when it comes to the use of VPNs. In some jurisdictions, VPN users can face significant fines or even prison time. Thus, if you’re planning to travel to any of the places listed above, we recommend removing VPNs and proxy services from your device for the duration of the trip, or at least doing in-depth research on the laws in the country to avoid accidentally breaking them.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, it’s completely legal to use VPN services in Canada as long as you don’t break any other laws with your internet activity. Lots of people use these tools to stay anonymous online, protect their data, and access geo-restricted content. However, VPN usage is illegal or restricted in some countries around the world such as China, Iraq, and others, so you may need to disable your VPN or even remove it from your devices completely before visiting those areas.

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