The VPN market is on the rise, it’s booming and blooming, expected to reach $75 billions in the next 5 years. The significant increase in VPN usage was observed during the year of 2020 and there are several contributing factors to this. Of course, the endless waves of cyber threats targeted both at citizens and at institutions are a big factor. Another one is the pandemic itself which demands VPNs as the safety measure for remote work in many cases.
Another key factor is not so situational, but it’s an important background for the current times: the limitation of internet freedom that is practiced throughout the globe in various forms and for purposes.
Different countries have different restrictions. While VPNa are the more or less a universal solution to overcome such obstacles, it needs to be clarified, why do you need one, even in the United States.
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How it works around the world
A lot of countries around the world are restricting the access to social networks or Google services. If you live or travel to places like China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Vietnam, Cuba, Saudi Arabia or several other countries, you will find that it’s often impossible to reach actual news services or even your own Gmail account (or Google Maps or Google Search) without using a VPN. Social networks like Facebook or Twitter and other platforms are often banned or restricted in countries with strong authoritarian governments, because it’s easier to block those services completely than to filter out the content.
In such countries VPNs are often forbidden and/or watched by the said government. For example, while it’s technically legal to use VPNs in China, you need to use the party-approved one, which is probably filled with trackers.
When you are travelling, it’s absolutely essential to use VPN for your financial transactions if you are using public Wi-Fi. Also, you will probably need it to access your favorite streaming services (and sometimes you don’t even have to leave the US to face this obstacle as some content on Netflix, for example, is limited to certain regions only).
Do I need to use VPN in the USA
The US has a lot of content-filled websites and platforms, uncensored social networks, etc. But the devil is in the details. For example, the copyright law has much more power here and while some countries allow free access to most websites with free (i.e. pirated) content, the US tends to block them.
Yes, the government is not banning websites: if a website is “arrested” by the FBI, he is not “restricted” so you can access it otherwise, it is completely wiped out and all you can see is the infamous “this website has been seized” picture with American eagle.
But that doesn’t mean they are not logging your access to the “undesirable” websites and saving the info of your actions in their database. Even if you are not doing anything illegal, this is not a comfortable situation at all.
The future seems pretty concerning. Since 2017 American ISPs have already allowed to sell customers’ browsing history without their knowledge or approval. But even if your ISP is okay, he will totally give all your data to the police or FBI if requested to. And even aside from that, the hackers are totally not. And they are on the rise: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that cases of identity theft skyrocketed (about 1.4 million reports) during the COVID-19 pandemic, with incidents reported doubling compared to 2019.
Also, there is no guarantee that the censorship will never appear in some form, given the US political turbulence of the last several years. So, it’s always better to have some useful tool on your hands (such as a VPN) that can become even more useful in the case of an emergency.
VPNs today, the reality
The world is constantly changing, therefore it is necessary for people to change and adapt to the completely new technological era. You can miss the old internet of the early 2000s and ignore the current reality where internet access is limited in some places, where data is stolen and sold, and Big Brother is always watching. But this is the only reality we have now, and what you really can do is to stay safe and protected with VPN services.
It is especially important in this particular transformational period, where the law can’t manage to catch up with the fast-changing reality and as a result we have weird bans and restrictions that look ridiculous and will be eventually canceled, but the years will pass by then.
VPN is not the magic pill (and it’s also illegal to use in many places), but it’s a convenient solution to many problems internet users are experiencing today. It helps to enhance the security of your online purchases (especially if you do online shopping via public Wi-Fi), encrypts your data and hides your location from curious eyes. It helps you to access the content and services which somebody decided not to show you for legal reasons.
While we are waiting for the new technological solutions and the end of internet censorship, this will do it.