We’ve written before about how to avoid getting caught in the net of censorship.
It’s a topic that we discussed earlier this year on CNN, where we discussed how VPNs are not as effective as you might think.
That was the case in the UK, too, where Prime Minister David Cameron banned VPNs in June of this year, citing a “sophisticated and sophisticated network of censorship,” as The Guardian’s Mark Richardson wrote.
But the issue isn’t limited to the UK.
VPNs also fall under the purview of US authorities.
Last week, a New York judge ruled that a US citizen living in the US could not use a US-based VPN to avoid paying US taxes.
“There is a clear difference between what you are doing in the United States and what you would be doing in a foreign country,” said Assistant US Attorney Brian M. McAndrew, according to The New York Times.
“You’re not being a spy, you’re not doing anything illegal.”
The ruling was widely mocked on social media, and was described by many as a blow to privacy.
“I was surprised that the US court would allow VPNs to continue to operate as a legal way for US citizens to circumvent foreign laws,” said Ryan Devereaux, who writes for the privacy blog Privacy International.
“They have already shown that they are incapable of making any sense of this law, and I suspect they will continue to do so until the law changes.”
In fact, as Ars Technica noted, the US government has already been cracking down on VPNs.
Earlier this year the US Treasury Department announced a crackdown on the “cryptocurrency” Bitcoin.
It noted that “the digital currency is not an asset under the law,” meaning that it wasn’t subject to regulation as an asset.
The US Treasury also said it was “considering enforcement actions against foreign exchanges and individuals associated with such platforms.”
In March, the United Kingdom also banned VPN services, as well as some “socially unacceptable” online content, including “obscene material.”
The UK’s new tax crackdown may not be the end of the world, but it’s not a good look for the tech community, which is trying to get its hands on a VPN.
It is also a bad look for companies like Facebook, which are struggling to convince consumers that they have the right to use their services.
Facebook told Ars that the tax move would be used as a “wake-up call” for those using the services to reconsider their decision.
“If you have a VPN, you can use it anywhere you want, including at home, in public places and in places where there is a significant risk of the site being accessed by people who are not the intended users,” Facebook told us in an email.
“And it is important to note that your privacy is very important to us and we do not share your data with third parties.”