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Today, in Brazil, the government suspended by judicial requirement the WhatsApp application for 48 hours. It is a messaging app that works only via Internet connection (3G, 4G, WiFi...) and not by carrier services.

This block can now be bypassed by configuring a VPN. People in the country are downloading free VPN apps that can liberate the access in a massive way, but don't even know what really a VPN does, or what it is.

Is this practice legal? And how this service could harm any data on the device? I am asking this because I've seen kids and people with no knowledge on network doing this like never before, even my entire family.

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    This thread might help you, one guy just posted approximately the same question few hours ago : security.stackexchange.com/questions/108369/… – JohnnyBgud Dec 17 '15 at 11:41
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    If you're asking questions about legality, consult law stack exchange or a Brazilian lawyer - the question will vary depending on who makes the rules. – Mark C. Wallace Dec 17 '15 at 12:16
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A VPN is a virtual private network. It can literally be understood by simply breaking down the words:

Virtual - Because instead of being physical it's virtual or artificial (software only)

Private - Because the communications between your computer and the VPN are protected through encryption, virtual tunneling protocols, or the use of dedicated (private) connections.

Network - (obvious)

When you connect to a VPN, you're really making an encrypted (or otherwise private) connection to another device to be able to access a virtual network on that device as if you were physically connected to that network (just like a LAN). If the VPN acts as a "gateway" and is itself connected to the Internet, then it can share its Internet connection with any device connected to it. This means that when you're using the Internet on your VPN-connected device, it's really utilizing the Internet capabilities of the VPN itself (bypassing any Internet-based restrictions on the device that's connecting to the VPN, and replacing them with any possible restrictions set on the VPN itself).

Since you're relying on the VPN to give you Internet access, it will usually degrade not only your ping time, but also your bandwidth. Also you will have to trust that VPN not to perform Man-in-the-Middle type attacks on your Internet, and to not attempt to access your physical LAN or LAN-connected devices. So yes, there is a degree of risk involved in that aspect.

As for the legalities, it could very well be illegal and more than likely is illegal to bypass any kinds of restrictions that your government had set in place. However in order to find out for sure I would recommend doing your own research on that subject. My advice is, just don't do it. Wait 48 hours and see what happens.

  • You are wrong on the private part. It has nothing to do with encryption (even if encryption if generally used). You could imagine a VPN protocol without encryption. It only means that traffic is encapsulated and uses that private route instead of using public network routing. Virually all happens as if you had a private copper cable between two points. It is mainly used in corporate environments to allow collaborators to access ressources that are not directly exposed to internet – Serge Ballesta Dec 17 '15 at 16:19
  • @SergeBallesta I have modified my answer. Thanks for the heads up – Jonathan Gray Dec 17 '15 at 18:58

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