Free societies really have no idea what it’s like to live in a censored and controlled nation that locks down the internet and filters what citizens are allowed to consume.
Imagine wanting to login and research information on health or find a friend online or simply watch some funny videos on YouTube…only to discover that your government doesn’t allow it.
In Iran, the UK-based group Small Media reported,“Prominent Persian-language websites and other online services have been filtered one by one, and communications with external platforms is becoming progressively more difficult.”
Iran isn’t the only country like this. Countries with some kind of internet censorship are frequently Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, as well as some countries in Southeast Asia and China. Specifically, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen and others in the MENA region block a lot of content and often communication applications like Skype, Viber and social media sites. Pakistan has blocked YouTube; in Vietnam, some ISPs block Facebook; some Central American countries block communication apps as well.
Reuters reports, “A widespread government internet filter prevents Iranians from accessing many sites on the official grounds they are offensive or criminal.”
“Many Iranians evade the filter through use of VPN software, which provides encrypted links directly to private networks based abroad, and can allow a computer to behave as if it is based in another country.”
“But authorities have now blocked ‘illegal’ VPN access, an Iranian legislator told the Mehr news agency on Sunday. Iranian web users confirmed that VPNs were blocked.”
It’s not just users in Iran who relyon US or European-based services that enable them to tunnel around the government censorship. One of the most popular, which has seen explosive growth in recent years, is Hotspot Shield VPN, in part because it offers a free, ad-supported version. Many other VPNs can be quite costly for users in developing countries where censorship is most prominent. Hotspot Shield also has a good track record of continuing to work even when other services get blocked, as was the case in Iran. So if you have friends or relatives living in or traveling to countries experiencing internet censorship, you might want to let them know about this useful service.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America.Disclosures.