Despite some talk against the usage of VPNs, it doesn’t seem like there will be a day when they will be completely banned. Much has been discussed in recent years regarding VPN services. While users rely on them to have great privacy and anonymity when browsing online, some entities have spoken and acted against them. Despite few countries having actually banned VPNs, some others have approved legislation that seriously restricts their activities.
Limiting a VPN’s service is quite simple. Since VPN providers own a limited number of IP addresses and a great number of subscribers share them for months or years at a time, entities such as law enforcements, websites, or streaming services can easily blacklist those providers. A more precise technique can be used to effectively block VPN connections. Ports that are commonly used to establish connections and transfer data, such as PPTP or L2TP, can be closed by system administrators.
While some streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and others have at some point blocked VPNs, most of them have taken a step back as the number of customers accessing the service with a VPN is very negligible compared to the total number of subscribers. Similarly, internet service providers, such as Verizon or Telstra, are known to throttle their customers’ connections if VPN usage is detected.
Obviously, some countries have proceeded to completely block VPN services. Both Syria and Egypt activated Deep Packet inspection after political turmoil in 2011 in order to block VPN connections. Additionally, Iran began blocking access to VPNs unauthorized by the government in March 2013, prior to elections. More recently, Russia has passed a law that establishes that only VPNs approved by the government can be used and if an individual is caught using an illegal VPN, they will be sanctioned. On a lesser scale, American and British government officials have expressed concern that the use of encryption on the internet would make it more difficult to prevent terrorism. But no other country has gone as far as China. The country’s Great Firewall is able to block the encrypted communication methods used by VPN services. Since 2018, telecommunication carriers are required to block the use of VPNs by individuals.
It’s quite clear that the above-mentioned countries have one aspect in common: they want to control the information their citizens have access to. All these governments are known to be oppressive and tend to intimidate those who dare to defy them.
Following a similar thought, the United Nations has observed that, at a time when governments are expanding invasive surveillance worldwide, encryption will allow for a safe and private space for free expression to be preserved.
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