Many people believe that the internet is both one of humanity’s greatest inventions and a truly democratic, free platform. We should all be able to surf the internet freely, as it was designed to be. However, in many areas of the world, people experience internet censorship.
Sometimes a nation’s entire population will not have access to even the most basic internet features, including Google, YouTube, or any type of social media. Even messaging apps like WhatsApp may have their ports blocked by regulatory or governmental entities. In other instances, censorship may involve blocking entire sections of the internet.
What impact does online censorship have on you? The answer is that it fully depends on where you are and how internet filtering is implemented in your nation or region. Some of us are lucky enough to have unrestricted access to the internet, which allows us to browse freely. Once you are enjoying the full-fledged, unrestricted internet, it is simple to forget this fact. On the other hand, it is simple to overlook the fact that some regions of the world (or particular countries) are so heavily regulated that their internet cannot be labeled as “free” at all.
But, improvements in privacy and cybersecurity technologies have made it possible for those of us with limited access to the internet’s features to successfully go around any censorship imposed by any state. Before we continue, it’s vital to mention that you should refrain from utilizing these techniques if there are stringent regulations forbidding you from getting around online censorship in your country or region.
What Is Online Censorship?
Online censorship is the same as censorship where freedom of expression is concerned, with the exception that it involves the barring of specific services and functions on your internet connection inside a particular nation or region. Statistics reveal that internet censorship varies greatly across Saudi Arabia, Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Turkey, and others. Most people would categorize all of these nations as having oppressive regimes, but there are significant differences in how they approach online censorship.
For instance, for political and religious reasons, some websites are prohibited in Saudi Arabia; navigating around this restriction could result in serious consequences for the user. In the meantime, social media platform access in Russia has been adjusted to stop people from getting information from independent news sources and criticizing their government. As for the extremes, North Korea and Myanmar, for instance. operate a different form of internet that is tightly constrained and state-controlled. Given that China has recently become considerably more globally integrated, the restrictions there are more for surveillance and monitoring purposes. As laws change, internet censorship policies may also do so, of course.
Other types of censorship exist; they are not just practiced by tyrannical governments. Some nations are regarded as being extremely globalized and sophisticated, but their internet censors forbid viewing pornography, such as nations like Turkey. In other situations, you might not be allowed to access Western media, like YouTube or Google, for example. To discourage its people from Western goods and lifestyle and the perceived dominance of the West, China, for instance, has built an entire domestic digital ecosystem (including WeChat and WePay).
Bypassing Online Censorship
It’s time to learn how to safely get around local online censorship now that you understand what it means and how it operates globally. First, verify whether this procedure is unlawful before doing that. If there are no clear laws and this is a gray area, you should be able to use the following techniques. If employing any of the following techniques will result in a fine or immediate physical harm according to your local laws, you might want to consider leaving your home country if you need internet freedom. It might be wise to speak to a lawyer in your area if you suspect you live in one of these regimes.
Now, there are various ways to get around online censorship. With a dedicated browser like Tor, you can browse the internet anonymously, for instance. You can also change your DNS server manually, utilize browser extensions, and access websites using proxies. Some of the techniques, nevertheless, might not always be effective and reliable. Using high-quality Virtual Private Network software, also known as VPN, is the only proper and quick technique to get around any type of online restriction. You will profit from a two-pronged versatility because this cybersecurity software has the additional benefit of masking your internet IP address in addition to its encryption capabilities.
In terms of technical terms, a VPN substitutes its configurations for your standard internet settings, ports, and other elements. This implies that the service provider you have selected will encapsulate, encrypt, and re-route your internet traffic to a special server owned by the service provider. This prevents the disclosure or tracking of your identifying internet address (your IP address, which identifies your location) or your internet activity. The fact that VPNs are effective is the precise reason why certain nations have outlawed their use.
Whether you’re a journalist, academic, online business owner, or just a regular internet user, you have the right to use the internet at will and privately. Millions of people believe internet freedom today means being able to use anonymization and encryption tools like a VPN without restriction.
Finally, keep in mind that if you want full-fledged unblocking capability, you need the greatest VPN you can get. This entails subscribing regularly to a reputable, premium VPN software provider’s package. Also, you can try a temporary workaround and download the VPN via an internet proxy first if your nation or region restricts VPN provider websites. If not, set up your VPN while abroad in a location where VPN vendor websites are not blocked. For even more peace of mind while browsing the internet with your premium VPN, keep in mind to use a good privacy browser that can erase your digital footprints and block cookies.