Despite the inherently technical name, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become a necessity for Internet users in the modern-day. Originating as a means for businesses to securely connect to their network away from the office, VPNs have become increasingly popular in the consumer space as their encrypted tunnel ensures both privacy and security in a world full of prying eyes and restrictions.
When an action is conducted on the World Wide Web, usually it would pass through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and openly send your data to its destination. Installing a VPN onto your device allows you to connect to a server before any of this happens, allowing you to browse the Internet using that computer’s connection and effectively mask your own details. VPN services often house many servers across the world, allowing you to yield the benefits of connecting to other countries.
This is a particularly important feature for countries subjected to censorship. Stricter governments regulate websites they wish to be accessible by their population and its visitors, blocking those that contain historical, political, moral, cultural, religious, economic or other information that conflicts with their own agenda. Connecting to a less authoritarian country via a VPN helps to get around these restrictions but we urge you to do so at your own discretion.
Downloading a VPN isn’t illegal but accessing restricted content might be considered against the law in territories with these impositions. Sometimes this is clear cut, such as the Communist Party of China’s more rigid stance against the technology. It is less obvious in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, which tasks its Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) with regulating Israeli websites, anti-Islamic pages, gambling and pornography, Wikipedia, Skype, WhatsApp, and other platforms. Since the UAE relies on international business and tourism, it is a lot more likely to brush aside minor violations of those just wishing to contact their family than something fundamentally against their way of life.
VPNs have gained prominence for their ability to circumvent geoblocking – the practice in which certain countries have access to content that others do not. This was particularly noticeable when Netflix reinvented itself as a streaming platform, as the disparity in videos available across the world had many subscribers clamoring to access the US service specifically.
Since the complicated nature of licensing and copyright affects all streaming services, VPNs help to maximize the value of a subscription so that you get the most out of your money. Contrary to popular belief, this is not actually illegal, but it is usually against terms of services set to placate the production studios authorizing the use of their content.
On the opposite end of the scale, torrenting sits in a much more legal grey area, wholly dependent on what exactly it is you are downloading. Since torrenting is simply a peer-to-peer method of sharing files, the practice doesn’t break any laws but downloading copyrighted or sanctioned material does. We do not advocate breaking any laws, however certain premium VPNs are popular in this scene for their degree of anonymity by hiding your location from the morally questionable host websites, your ISP and therefore officials.
Even if none of the above applies to you, this level of privacy is something that we would always recommend and is especially important when using public Wi-Fi connections to avoid your non-HTTPS browsing history becoming public knowledge.
Choosing the right VPN can be a huge undertaking given how saturated the market is. Free options are guaranteed to be eye-catching but are often questionable in both their capabilities and trustworthiness. The added cost of a premium VPN is a small price to pay for privacy and achieving your end goal. To help you narrow your decision depending on your needs, we have a great selection of VPNs that suit the United Arab Emirates already lined up, as well as the best services to unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.