What is a VPN and are they legal in the UK? | The Sun

If you've found yourself asking what is a VPN?' and if they're legal in the UK, you're not alone: we're here to reveal all.

We've got all the answers to your VPN questions below and we will dispel all the misconceptions out there.

What is a VPN?

Short for 'virtual private network', a VPN is one of the easiest ways to boost your security online.

When activated, the software can change the address of your tech, be it a laptop, computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

Is using a VPN legal in the UK?

Using a VPN is perfectly legal in the UK, provided it is used with legal guidelines.

Many users use VPNs as a get-around for 'geo-restrictions' which prevent them from accessing video content outside certain countries – such as watching Netflix content that isn't available in your region.


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Of course, while streaming platforms don't look fondly on these practices it's not illegal. We've even rounded up the best VPNs for Netflix if this is something you're interested in.

Other countries, such as North Korea and Iraq have banned VPNs altogether, while only government-approved services are permitted in countries including Russia, China and Turkey.

Who are the best UK VPN providers?

There are plenty of VPN providers on the market today, making it difficult to choose one suited to you.

Luckily, we've done the hard work for you and rounded up the best VPN services and our best VPN for Netflix from the most reputable providers.

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Some offer different levels of privacy, have varying no-logs policies, and some are even free.

Here's a brief round-up of the best on the market:

  • Cyberghost, from £1.75 per month – buy here / read our CyberGhost VPN review
  • Surfshark, from £1.86 per month – buy here / read our Surfshark VPN review
  • NordVPN, from £2.89 per month – buy here / read our NordVPN review
  • ExpressVPN, from £5.15 – buy here / read our ExpressVPN review
  • PIA VPN, from £1.67 – buy here / read our PIA VPN review

How does a VPN work?

VPN software works by sending your internet access through a remote server, which could be anywhere in the world – with many providers offering hundreds to choose from.

This masks your IP addresses, acting as an extra layer of online security between you and would-be snoopers.

It's worth bearing in mind that not even the VPN companies themselves can monitor your activity, as they (by and large) offer end-to-end encryption.

A reputable provider will be transparent about their privacy terms and have an audited no-logs policy, but you should always check these before purchasing.

Why use a VPN?

You may still be asking why you should use a VPN at all, but the reasons go beyond privacy.

One of the most convincing arguments for using a VPN is to protect your personal data from online criminals.

We've all heard horror stories of hackers gaining personal and financial data to spam people with scams or even con them out of money – the risk of which can be mitigated by activating a VPN.

Will a VPN make me entirely anonymous?

No VPN can offer full anonymity, so it's not possible to completely hide your online presence.

What it can do is encrypt your data and shield your IP address, which acts as a layer of protection so those with ill intentions and online trackers are put at bay.

How to set up a VPN?

VPN providers have come a long way in recent years, and they aren't just for the tech-savvy.

Many have an ON/OFF switch, so when you want to activate it, you simply press the button and the program will connect to the best available server, automatically securing your connection.

VPNs are extremely user-friendly these days and straightforward to navigate, so if you have specific needs like accessing servers in another country you can pick from a server list.

How much does a VPN cost in the UK?

There is a surprising level of variation in cost among providers: it largely depends on your contract length and desired subscription.

As a rule of thumb, across the board opting for a rolling monthly contract will be much more pricey compared to a long-term plan, upwards of £10 per month.

While it does offer an easier way to opt out and cancel, the benefits of using a VPN and the cheaper cost of an annual plan tend to be a better bet.

It stands to reason that each provider is competing for your business for as long as possible, so you'll often see lucrative 'deals' on longer-term plans with significant savings.

How to choose a good VPN

There are several factors, beyond price, to consider when you're shopping around for a VPN.

Here is a guide as to what to look out for:

  • The provider offers multiple simultaneous connections: this way all the family can benefit.
  • Check the number of servers provided: the greater the number the more choice.
  • Check speeds: If you're using a remote server you want to ensure it doesn't slow you down.
  • Ensure transparency: Reputable providers will be upfront about audited no-logs policies.
  • Look out for a kill switch: In the event you lose connection a reputed provider uses a kill switch to automatically terminate your internet activity.

What can I do with a VPN?

VPNs are not one-trick ponies, they have more than one use which makes them the ideal tool.

Of course, there is the evident privacy benefits that keep you safer online and provide a level of reassurance when going online.

Aside from this, they can be used to access streaming content not available to you or to access your favourite shows when you're abroad.


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It's also worth reading our explainer on how to watch ITV abroad, so you can tune into the soaps and prime-time dramas wherever you are in the world.

  • Cyberghost, from £1.75 per month – buy here / read our CyberGhost VPN review
  • Surfshark, from £1.86 per month – buy here / read our Surfshark VPN review
  • NordVPN, from £2.89 per month – buy here / read our NordVPN review
  • ExpressVPN, from £5.15 – buy here / read our ExpressVPN review
  • PIA VPN, from £1.67 – buy here / read our PIA VPN review

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