Within the past two weeks, both China and Russia have made VPNs illegal. This has made people worry that other countries might soon forbid them as well.

In particular, we can wonder if Indonesia, where thousands of websites are blocked (because of porn, streaming, gambling, hate speech, terrorism, etc), will follow the lead.

First, let me remind you quickly what VPNs are and why so many people are using them in Indonesia.

VPN, an acronym for Virtual Private Network, is a technology that allows you to bypass internet censorship and to remain anonymous on the web. Basically, it connects your computer to a protected server in another country, from where you will be free to visit any sites you want. The best VPN companies do not keep track of your activity on their servers, meaning nobody will ever know what you did online.

In a country like Indonesia, there are dozens of reasons you may want to use a VPN (personally I never turn it off):
- If you want to visit blocked websites, you'll need a VPN
- If you want to be anonymous at work, in your residence, at home, you'll need a VPN
- If you want to illegally download movies or software from torrents/P2P sites, you'll need a VPN
- If you want to watch TV shows that are not available in Indonesia, you'll need a VPN
- If you want to watch Netflix USA in Indonesia, you'll need a VPN

The list could go on and on.

The cost of a VPN for a year is quite reasonable, usually not more than 60$. I've used about half a dozen of them in the past 5 years and the ones I recommend are PureVPN (my current one - cheap but still great) or VyprVPN (best for privacy and fast).

For a detailed review, you can also read my article: How to Access Blocked Websites in Indonesia with a VPN?

Now back to our question: Are VPNs legal or not in Indonesia?

Fortunately, YES they are legal.

In fact, according to a survey, Indonesia is the country with the most VPN users in the world (41% of web users on computers). Almost everyone I know uses one, including those with limited technical skills. All you have to do is download an application, install it, and launch it with your login/password.

I think it is unlikely that the situation will change in the forthcoming years. Many reasons for that:

First, the censorship in Indonesia and in China is fundamentally different.  One is a democracy, the other is not. Indonesia forbids websites that are morally offensive to individuals (conservative Muslims) while China forbids websites that pose a political threat to the whole system. Consequently, there is a much bigger incentive for the latter to crackdown on VPNs.

Furthermore, for strategic reasons, China has built its own ecosystem of websites and apps (WeChat, Baidu, Sina Weibo, Youku, etc.) which are copycats of prohibited American services (respectively Whatsapp, Google, Twitter and YouTube). That's another reason for China to block VPN that Indonesia does not have.

Finally, even if the Indonesian government wanted to make VPNs illegal, I'm pretty sure it would only be wishful thinking. Whenever laws are passed, they are rarely enforced properly because the people in charge are either corrupt or incompetent (or both!). For instance, regarding currently blocked websites, you can bypass the ban quite easily, even without a VPN, simply by changing the DNS settings on your computer. 

VPNs are 100% legal in Indonesia so you should not worry about using one. With just 40$ per year, you can improve your internet experience significantly, without having to worry about websites being blocked or about the government spying on your activity.

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