Can a VPN be tracked by the police or the government?

Can VPNs be tracked

Have you ever wondered whether the police can track you if you are using a VPN? Do you know why VPN jurisdiction is important? Can a VPN disguise your illegal online activity or protect you from legal accountability?

Read on to find out the answers to these questions.

Are VPNs Legal?

VPNs are legal in most, but not all, countries worldwide. The following countries have put a complete ban on the use of VPNs: Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Turkey, and Oman. In China and the United Arab Emirates, VNPs are not altogether banned but are tightly regulated. In Uganda, VNPs are only partially banned.

VPNs are legal in many countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, and others. There are no retention laws that require VPN service providers to log information. However, if your VPN provider logs your information, governments can obtain it with the help of a court order.

Can the Police Track Me If I Use a VPN?

When you do not have a VPN, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) has all the information about you, including your location and traffic content. 

When you have a VPN, your IP address and traffic content are hidden, and all your ISP can tell is that you are using a VPN.

But even though the police cannot track and decode your VPN-encrypted traffic, they can get a court order to collect your information from the VPN provider. That is why it is essential to know what information your VPN provider logs.

Most VPN service providers promise maximum safety and privacy but do not necessarily make good on that promise. Some keep user logs, which are information about the websites you have visited. At the same time, others keep connection logs – times of connection, data usage, actual IP address, and the address assigned by the VPN. Only a tiny amount of them keeps no logs whatsoever.

The authorities have legal means to obtain your private information. Still, if the VPN does not log it, no data will be obtained. So, if you want to make sure that your VPN is reliable, skip all the advertising phrases and go straight to their privacy policy.

VPN Place of Jurisdiction

’Place of jurisdiction’ is the country whose laws would apply if you were legally prosecuted for committing an illegal criminal activity online. As far as VPNs are concerned, the place of jurisdiction is usually the country in which the VPN provider’s headquarters are.

Knowing your VPN service’s jurisdiction is essential because certain countries have retention laws and binding alliances with other countries to share the information they consider to be in the national security interest. Here is the list of those alliances:

Five Eyes Alliance: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, and the UK.

Nine Eyes Alliance: Five Eyes + Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway.

Fourteen Eyes Alliance: Nine Eyes countries + Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.

Can a VPN Protect Me If I Am Conducting Illegal Online Activity?

VNP service providers do not encourage or condone illegal online activity – they simply give you your right to privacy. Nobody should be able to use your information without your knowledge and informed consent. While many organizations profit from that information by targeting you for advertisements, others go as far as to steal other important content. This is where VPNs can be most helpful.

A Word of Advice

If you are using a VPN, the police can neither trace your whereabouts nor find the contents of your traffic. Nevertheless, your VPN service provider may be logging some of your information, which they would have to turn over if requested to do so by the court. 

To ensure maximum privacy and security, check all the VPNs’ jurisdictions and choose a provider located in a country with strong privacy laws and no data-sharing with other countries. Also, make sure that your chosen VPN provider has a strict no-log policy and keeps no data about your online activity.

Recommended VPN services 2022

#
VPN SERVICE
DISCOUNT
FEATURES
VISIT
1
NordVPN Logo
68%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Fastest VPN
  • Servers: 5300+
  • Countries: 60+

WHY I LIKE NORDVPN: NordVPN has long been regarded as one of the strongest brands in cybersecurity. With one of the largest server offerings on my list and support for most, if not all operating systems, making NordVPN an obvious choice for many. They have 24/7 customer support if you need help getting started. Their app is one of the most well-designed apps I have ever used. NordVPN even accepts cryptocurrencies as payment for extra anonymity.

2
Surfshark logo
82%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best cheap VPN
  • Servers: 3200+
  • Countries: 65+

WHY I LIKE SURFSHARK: Surfshark VPN is perfect for those who want a cheap and reliable VPN that also has many extra features. "Camouflage Mode" hides your usage from your ISP, "Kill Switch" suspends your connection and protects your information if you temporarily lose Internet access, "MultiHop" to connect from multiple countries at the same time just to name a few. My favorite feature of Surfshark is "Whitelists" which allow the user to exclude specific apps and programs from the VPN connection.

3
Private Internet Access VPN Logo
81%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best Netflix VPN
  • Servers: 35500+
  • Countries: 84+

WHY I LIKE PIA VPN: PrivateInternetAccess is at the top of my streaming tests, which is a great combination with their easy-to-use UI, Open-Source software and built in adblocker. PIA is also perfect for those who want to be able to pay with PayPal which for some reason, many other VPN services do not support. 30-day money-back guarantee, multiple Netflix libraries, and extremely affordable are the three main selling points for this VPN service.

4
Cyberghost VPN Logo
83%
DISCOUNT

45 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best torrent VPN
  • Servers: 7400+
  • Countries: 91+

WHY I LIKE CYBERGHOST: CyberGhost VPN is the first choice of many other cybersecurity experts, and the reason is clear; they have the most complete VPN service. An incredible number of extra features that are best suited for the more advanced users but also work flawlessly for every-day purposes like P2P-filesharing. Cyberghost VPN also has the longest stretching money-back guarantee at a full 45 days.

5
Atlas VPN Logo
83%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Incredibly cheap VPN
  • Servers: 750+
  • Countries: 43+

WHY I LIKE ATLAS VPN: Atlas VPN is one of the best new free VPN services. With the free version, you get unlimited data, no ads and zero logging. During my speed tests, Atlas VPN performed very well and could compete with mainstream services. Kill Switch, Ad-blocker, and P2P support all included with a regular subscription, which is incredibly cheap for such a robust service.

Related articles

Affiliate Discosure - Vpnetic works with a variety of cybersecurity and online service vendors to help monetize the traffic of our site. This allows us to offer all our content for free without any paywalls. Because of this, some of the links on this page may earn us a commission when you click through and complete a purchase. This will never affect the rankings of the product or our review of it under any circumstance. We will always remain objective in the search for the best privacy products and services. Read more about us and our researchers on our About Us page.

Find us.

SUP46, Start-Up People of Sweden, Regeringsgatan 6th floor, Stockholm