The Irish Government has said it will not impose a blanket ban on VPNs and will not take action to ban the use of VPNs.
The announcement by Public Health Minister Shane Ross on Friday came as he made the first of a series of announcements to tackle the growing use of encrypted communications by criminals, cyber criminals and foreign intelligence services.
It follows the publication in June of a report by a government-commissioned review which found that many VPNs were used by criminals and cybercriminals to conceal their activities.
However, the review also said the use and access of VPN services should be subject to strict controls.
Mr Ross said the Government will take a range of measures, including through legislation, to protect the public, including by imposing restrictions on the use or access of encrypted communication services.
“It is a matter of public interest that people, and organisations that operate VPNs, be held to account for the actions of their operators,” he said.
“These actions are also of concern for the privacy of their users.”
This Government is determined to address the privacy and security concerns raised by the growing popularity of encrypted data services and will continue to take a robust approach to this issue.
“We are committed to working with all parties, including the Irish Government, to develop legislation that is both appropriate and reasonable to protect our privacy and secure the integrity of our digital networks.”
The Government has so far committed to introducing legislation to allow for the use by the Irish Police Force of encrypted telephony services.
However the Government has yet to announce any new legislation, and Mr Ross said there are a number of issues to be addressed to enable the Government to implement such legislation.
Mr Kerry said he is confident the Government’s approach will achieve the goals of protecting the public and securing the privacy, while allowing for the effective and efficient use of the data on Irish network infrastructure.
He said that he expects the Government and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner to provide detailed guidance to the Irish Privacy Commissioner to ensure the public’s data privacy is protected.
“I am confident that our Government will address this issue, and I am confident we will continue moving in that direction,” he added.
“The Government is committed to a robust and effective approach to secure our digital communications and to working closely with other parties and other stakeholders to achieve that goal.”