“Are VPNs legal and safe to use?” Many people who are considering using a VPN for the first time question whether this is so. Bypassing regional restrictions and protecting your identity – are these illegal acts? Are you putting yourself in the territory of legal risk and reprisal if discovered?
Whether you want to use a VPN to get around geo-blocks, or you just want to keep your identity and other data private and hidden from prying eyes, a VPN can help you do that. In this guide, we’re going to answer your burning question: are VPNs legal in Canada? We’re also going to give you some of the best VPNs on the market, and show you how you can beat geo-blocks and keep your information safe, secure, and private.
VPN use in Canada – Legal or not?
The short answer is simple: Yes, it’s currently legal to use a VPN in Canada.
In fact, many organizations, like government agencies, law firms, accounting firms, and others utilize VPNs to protect sensitive data. However, in some countries, Canada included, certain governmental laws can force VPNs to divulge their users’ data if requested. And, using a VPN goes against the user terms of service of many online streaming sites (Netflix, Hulu, etc.). These services may cancel your subscription if you attempt to use a VPN. However, this usually doesn’t happen – more often, these services will simply employ a VPN blocker that can sometimes prevent you from being able to stream video until you disconnect from your VPN.
Picking a VPN for Canada
Now that we’ve cleared that up, what should you look for in a VPN? There’s a lot of info out there: things about bits and network size, logging policies, and jurisdiction. We aim to clear up your questions, so here’s the criteria we used to make our picks – and why:
- Encryption – To bypass geo-blocks and protect your data, you need a VPN with strong encryption. All the VPNs on our list have best-of-the-best 256-bit AES encryption – plenty to keep your data private and secure.
- Jurisdiction – You need a VPN that’s located outside of Canada, or any other country where they would be beholden to that government’s requests for your data logs. In other words, you need a VPN that’s based in a neutral government.
- Network size – To ensure that you have access to the best servers available every time you connect, you need a VPN that has a large, widespread network. Plus, if you have a specific country in mind from which you’d like to view content, it helps to have a VPN server located within that country.
- Logging policies – Going hand-in-hand with the last point, even if you choose a VPN that can be forced to divulge your data, you can take another precaution: make sure there isn’t any data recorded to be given away. All the VPNs on this list have strong zero-logging policies, so there isn’t any data kept by the VPN that could identify you anyway.
- Speed – Finally, you need a VPN that has fast connection speeds. Since VPNs add at least one layer of encryption, they have a reputation for slowing down you internet connection. But the VPNs we chose are some of the fastest on the market, giving you access to excellent streaming, downloading, and browsing speeds.
Top VPNs for Canada
Here are our top picks for VPNs for Canada, as of 2018:
ExpressVPN is not only one of the fastest VPNs on the market, but also one of the easiest to use. So with this provider, you get buffer-free streaming of your favorite content, fast download times, and seamless browsing, but you also get a 1-click interface that stays out of your way. You get zero speeds caps, no throttling, and absolutely no restrictions on P2P networks or torrents, either. So pretty much anything you want to do online, you can do, with ExpressVPN.
This provider has military-grade, 256-bit AES encryption with 5 encryption protocols that can help you beat even the most hardcore censorship blocks; but you also get the option to lower your security – while still staying safe – to get an extra boost of speed. Your security is rounded out with a DNS leak test and an automatic kill switch, the latter of which blocks you from connecting to your ISP if your VPN connection drops.
ExpressVPN has more than 2,000 servers spread across 94 countries, so you’ll have no problem getting online with the best server for your use-case. And with so many countries included, you can expand your catalogue of internet content across much more of the world than before. ExpressVPN can get past VPN blockers, too, which makes them great for Netflix and other streaming services.
Learn more in our full ExpressVPN review.
NordVPN offers a truly HUGE network: 5,000+ servers in 62 countries – and they’re always growing. As the largest reputable provider in the industry, NordVPN is competitively fast, and one of the most reliable VPNs for bypassing VPN blockers, so you can access Netflix and Hulu without a problem. This is accomplished due to NordVPN’s advanced features. Alongside their nearly-unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption, you get specialty servers for various use-cases. So things like using Onion over VPN, Anti-DDoS, Double VPN, P2P, Dedicated IP addresses, and Obfuscated servers can up your security game – perfect for power users.
But if you’re newer to VPN use, NordVPN offers you an attractive user interface, and their graphical server map makes it easy to select a server based on location around the world. They even offer option toggles that block ads and malware. With a wide software availability, NordVPn is based in Panama, a neutral government not beholden to larger powers’ requests.
Check out our full 2018 NordVPN review.
If you’re looking for a fast, reliable, easy-to-use VPN, look no further – CyberGhost has you covered. This provider is easy to install and use, with a colorful, minimalist display that gives you 6 pre-configured profiles. Each of these applies the best VPN settings for various use-cases, like unblocking streaming, unblocking basic websites, and choosing your VPN server. You can also add on toggles that block malicious websites, ads, and online tracking, as well as give you extra browsing security and speed.
CyberGhost has 2,700+ servers in 60 countries, with an immaculate logging policy that doesn’t even keep your email address, much less any other information that could be used to identify you. 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak test, and kill switch keeps you safe, and a wide array of software ensures that you’ll be able to connect with any of your devices.
You can learn more about his great provider in our full CyberGhost review.
How to beat geo-blocking with a VPN
By using a VPN, you can “project” your location to just about anywhere – as long as there’s a server available. A VPN works by giving you a virtual IP address tied to whatever server you’re connected to in the VPN provider’s network. So, if you connect to a U.S. server from Canada, you’ll have access to different websites, a wider catalogue of streaming content on Netflix, and can even save money shopping online – because many websites change their prices based on where you’re IP address indicates you’re located.
So how can you do this? Simple – follow these steps:
- Sign up for a VPN provider. You can use any of the links in our list above, and you’ll be taken to a “Plans” page. Just select the plan you’d like, fill out the info requested, and you’ll have access in minutes.
- Download and install your new VPN onto the device(s) you want to be able to connect from. If using a mobile device, you may have to visit your app store.
- Once you’ve installed your VPN, open the app and sign in with the credentials you created in step 1. Your VPN will automatically connect you to the nearest, fastest server available. If this is one inside Canada and you’d like to access content that’s unavailable, simply bring up the VPN’s server list and select a server elsewhere.
- Once you’ve connected to the server of your choice – wait. One more step: open your web browser and visit ipleak.net. Once you’re there, the site will automatically run an IP address lookup on your device. In a box near the top, you’ll find a long string of numbers – your IP address. In the same box, underneath these digits, you’ll find a country name – this is your IP address’s country of origin. If the country matches that of the server you connected to (i.e. -> you connected to a U.S. server, and the country of origin says “United States”), then you’re securely connected through your VPN and can now browse with impunity.
Other uses for a VPN
Aside from beating content restrictions, there are other things that VPNs can help you with. One of a VPN’s primary purposes is to protect your privacy.
When you use a VPN, your data – your identity, traffic, DNS, IP address, etc. – is sent through an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server. From there, it takes on the location of the VPN server before being sent back through the same encrypted tunnel to your device. In this way, your data is kept in a closed-loop system that masks it from the prying eyes of your ISP, government authorities, and hackers.
Although this isn’t a 100% perfect system – nothing can be – unless you’re engaging in some seriously covert activities, a VPN is perfectly adequate and the best method you can use to reliably keep your information safe online.
Using a VPN to beat geo-blocks – A grey area
It’s legal to use a VPN to protect your online transactions and related information. But, the legality of using one to facilitate other online activities is still a blurry line. A 2013 court case in the United States found it a breach of the U.S. Computer Fraud Act to “knowingly circumvent one or more technological or physical measures that are designed to exclude or prevent unauthorized individuals from obtaining [that] information.”
So, some argue that if a Canadian uses a VPN to watch U.S. TV, they’re technically guilty of breaking this law. However, an attorney for a major American organization – the Electronic Frontier Foundation – was quoted in Forbes, saying, “While there are differences among the courts about the use of masking IP addresses to gain access to a site, it is pretty well established that simply violating the Terms of Service alone is not sufficient to warrant a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”
That’s U.S law… What about Canada?
In Canada, there’s no equivalent of the U.S. case to set a precedent for violation. That being said, however, there has been a precedent case of a U.S.-based company (Voltage Pictures) requesting the Canadian-based Teksavvy to divulge the private information of its subscribers, who Voltage Pictures claimed had violated copyright regulations. In the end, Teksavvy had to hand over this information, but, any correspondence to Canadian subscribers in that list had to be approved by a Canadian court before it could begin.
What this means is that Canadian-based VPNs can be forced to turn over any and all logs they have on users. But, thankfully, none of the VPNs on our list are based out of Canada or beholden to its laws – so you have nothing to worry about.
Addictive Tips is a strong advocate for your privacy, but we never condone piracy or otherwise breaking the laws of your country. It is up to you to understand those laws, and to act accordingly. Please use your VPN responsibly and safely.
So ultimately, the answer to your original question that we gave stands: Yes, it’s legal in to use a VPN in Canada. While this may change or gain more nuances in the future, for now there’s nothing to worry about. You can legally use a VPN in Canada to stream and view content from other countries, as well as keep your identity and data private and secure while you browse the web.
Do you live, work, or travel to Canada frequently? Have you used a VPN or wondered if it was legal to do so? Let us know your thoughts and stories in the comments section below.