In today’s age of instant information, you expect to access anything you want, from anywhere you want. And you expect to do it with a minimum amount of privacy so that people cannot judge your taste. If you are like most people in most places, it’s absolutely not a problem. You can browse, research, and download fully unencumbered. If you live in any of the 196 countries which support VPNs, you may take the practice of opening any website you want for granted.
Why does the popularity of VPN is increasing?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the direction the web is headed in as the number of countries implementing internet censoring and content filtering is actually growing. While VPNs can bring a multitude of benefits, people sometimes hesitate over concerns that the use may not be legal. It’s important to note that for the most, part they’re perfectly legal and safe to use. We said ‘for the most part’ as some countries have suppressed the use of VPNs, by blocking VPN provider sites, making their provision illegal, or other restrictive means. In this post, we’ll take a look at some countries where VPNs extremely popular because of the existence of internet censorship.
You may wonder why do VPNs become a target for governments looking to tighten control over the internet. The VPN provider acts as your internet service provider when you connect to the VPN. So, rather than being able to track the websites you connect to, your government or your local ISP can only view that all of your traffic is going to your VPN provider’s servers.
If these servers are located outside your country, then you can access sites which would be blocked for traffic generating from your IP address. If the VPN provider doesn’t store any information about its users or their online activities, it becomes even harder for anybody to trace your online activities back to you. In short, apart from encrypting your internet traffic, a VPN may protect your online privacy to a great extent as it masks your actual IP address.
Countries where VPNs are becoming increasingly popular
The internet offers hope and freedom to disenfranchised people across the globe and the anonymity provided by a VPN can be utilized to circumvent internet censorship. Here’re some countries where VPNs are gaining steady popularity due to heavy internet censorship.
Saudi Arabia is one of the prominent countries censoring the internet because of religious belief. It has blocked around a half million websites which include content comprising material counter to Islamic beliefs. The Ministry of the Interior monitors all internet traffic that is routed through a central point. The ISU or Internet Service Unit is responsible for maintaining the list of blocked websites.
The internet landscape of Russia is becoming more closed: sites and services (most famously Telegram and LinkedIn) get habitually blocked by the government. It also doesn’t allow unapproved VPN services to be used or operated. Plans for implementing increasingly restrictive laws related to encryption, VPNs, and user data are presently in the discussion.
Iran is another major censor based on political and religious belief. Though access to the web is available across the country, webmasters, website owners, and bloggers have to register themselves with the Ministry of Art and Culture. Anybody who posts material contrary to the religious beliefs or critical of the government is persecuted and jailed. Apart from this, millions of websites are blocked. Technically, using a non-approved VPN is illegal, but usually, this rule is enforced as a means of suppressing political dissent.
The country may not get lots of attention but it holds a fairly authoritarian internet regime. Lots of prominent foreign websites are blocked, and sites are being continuously added to the list by the government as it finds new unapproved material. Most social media platforms are inaccessible together with news media and dissident websites.
The communist party lets its citizens access common websites like Google, MSN, and Yahoo providing they give up the name of every blogger using their services. They also block any website critical of communism or the government and any sites that advocate for human rights, democracy, and freedom. Apart from these, Vietnam uses a law against ‘abusing democratic freedom’ as the foundation for blocking and jailing journalists. In addition, the government uses different harassment techniques to stop known bloggers from attending as well as reporting on events.
It’s quite likely that internet censorship is going to stay for some countries. Be it religious, ideological, political or other, there’ll always be someone who wants to stop access to the spread of content and information. While it’ll always be impossible to end such suppression completely, there’re ways to circumvent it and using a VPN is probably the best one among them. It’s important to note that different countries block different materials and use different software, so a VPN that works in a particular country may not work properly in another.