When someone uses a VPN online, it can be used to disguise their activity in a few different ways. The traffic itself is encrypted, which prevents other Internet users from seeing things like the sites that are visited or activities that are taken online. VPNs are used for a variety of different reasons. For example, some people use them to stream types of media that may be available in other countries but not available in their own. The VPN can be set up to make it appear as if they are in a different physical location than they really are.
In other words, someone who is using a VPN assumes that their activity is private and that they are fully anonymous on the Internet. But is that still true if the police get involved? Are they able to break through a VPN and track that activity?
They may need a warrant or a court order
As far as live encrypted data, the police typically cannot track it. They may be able to in some situations, such as if a VPN isn’t very secure and there are different ways that an outside user can exploit the coding to break the encryption. This is not just the case for the police, but for anyone who has the ability to do so, such as a hacker. But if the VPN is secure, it should protect that live activity.
That being said, the police have more options at their disposal than the average internet user. They may be able to go get a court order or a warrant that gives them access to the records held by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP could then be compelled to provide information about the VPN that was being used. The police could contact that company with the court order.
As encryption technology continues to develop, these types of cases are just going to become more complex. Those who are facing allegations of illegal online activity must know about all of their defense options.