How a VPN Protects Freedom of Speech & Fights Censorship

In this era of cyber threats and dwindling privacy, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are a vital tool for any Internet user to access the web in safe and secure way. VPN are advanced Internet technologies that reroute normal web traffic through private servers and encryption protocols to ensure that the flow of data is kept safe from prying eyes.

Sometimes freedom of speech is taken for granted. First world countries have specific laws put in place that allow their citizens to exercise their right to freedom of speech and expression, which is especially important in this time of social media and instant communication.

There are still several countries in the world where exercising basic human right such as freedom of speech can lead to jail time, public harassment, corporal punishment, and even a death sentence. Citizens of the modern world will find it hard to comprehend the fact that a simple tweet, a political view, or even a photo shared online can potentially end up claiming the life of the individuals concerned.

We are not talking about countries like the US, UK, or Europe, where the extent of Internet censorship largely relates to geo-blocking filters employed by entertainment channels such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

In oppressive regimes such as China, North Korea, Malaysia, and countries of the Middle East such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the UAE, where fighting against Internet censorship can result in serious punishment, including death sentences in some extreme cases.

Photo: Reporters Without Borders / For Press Freedom

Photo: Reporters Without Borders / For Press Freedom

The problem is not only persistent in these regions. We’ve seen abuses of power in parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas too, where governments have interfered in personal freedom and liberty of speech by adopting censorship and Internet monitoring technologies to prevent like-minded individuals, low-level factions, and individuals from sharing any information that might be damaging to their ruling policies.

The Internet, combined with modern VPN tools, has helped these individuals as well as groups of minorities from these oppressive regions to share their views with the outside world. It has also helped them in communicating with other individuals within their countries to ensure that they lead a better life without any political interference.

We will take a deep look into the workings of a VPN, and how it has helped millions of people from across the globe to circumvent political boundaries and Internet censorship to enjoy free speech and the uninterrupted transfer of information.

How Do VPNs Work?

VPN comprise of different technologies and infrastructure that allows users to browse the web through a private network by hiding behind encryption protocols, virtual servers, and IP cloaking technologies.

The entire workings of a VPN came into existence due to demand from companies that required safe, secure, and efficient transfer of data and information between their employees and their central database. Essentially, companies employed VPN technologies to utilize the web without the accompanying security complications.

By utilizing a VPN, you are basically connecting your device or group of devices to a virtual server that can be located anywhere in the world, and the accompanying encryption protocols allow you to encrypt your web traffic to ensure that your browsing behavior is kept safe and secure from many forms of surveillance or Internet monitoring. While this was a useful feature for large companies and organizations, VPN has found wide-spread usage among regular Internet users who required a safe, convenient, secure, and cheap means to enjoy anonymous web browsing.

How To Use A VPN

VPN technologies are highly complex in nature, and require several technologies to work in tandem with each other for secure and anonymous web browsing.

However, when it comes to using a VPN, any regular Internet user can subscribe to a VPN service and use it without having any technical knowledge about the internal workings of a VPN. There are several VPN companies that offer off-the-shelf VPN packages that are designed to offer specific services according to varying user needs.

To circumvent Internet censorship, you have to first find a VPN service provider that offers the most excellent services and the widest number of servers to offer unparalleled access to a free and secure Internet.

NSA

The NSA leaks further highlighted the issue of surveillance. Photo: Gil C / Shutterstock

Once you sign up to a VPN company, download their VPN interface, enter your login information that you received during sign-up, choose a server or location of your choice, and use the Internet as you normally would. Once connected to the VPN, you will have largely unrestricted access to the Internet, and increase your chances of avoiding Internet surveillance.

How VPN Helps In Free Speech And Accessing Or Transmitting Prohibited Information

Once you are connected to the Internet through a VPN, your data is now encrypted and your browsing habits are hidden. This will help you secure access to information or other platforms where you can post content anonymously.

VPN has helped a large group of individuals and communities from across the globe to get in touch with the outside world to let others know about the ground reality of secretive and oppressive regimes. Violations of basic human rights, curbing of freedom of speech, and other political as well as geographic issues were brought to light due to the extensive use of modern Internet technologies. VPN has also enabled Internet users from these regions to voice their opinions, express opposing views to political policies, and share images as well as videos without every worrying about the consequences.

Real Life Examples Where VPN Helps Circumvent Internet Censorship

Internet censorship comes in different shapes and sizes. It depends entirely on the policies of the ruling government, and leaders in power usually come up with changes in laws that will curb any threats or revolts that might lead to them losing their authority.

In several countries such as Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries, VoIP and other chat services such as Skype have been blocked to allow monopolies for telecom services, which in some cases are state-linked. A majority of these countries are also among the most censored in the world, and are known to actively monitor citizens’ web traffic, and often block website content including, but not limited to, pornography, gambling, VPN, financial portals, and news websites that may directly or indirectly contradict state policies.

Countries such as Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and China have stringent laws in place that severely limit the freedom enjoyed by their citizens. Most of them have banned social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to prevent their citizens from utilizing the web to garner support for their movements.

These countries have faced internal uprisings from time to time, and many citizen movements have made use of VPN technologies to ensure that the rest of the world were made aware of the extreme human rights violations that happen within the closed boundaries.

Future of Internet Censorship & VPN

Some governments and their agencies are trying to come up with ways to block the use of VPN and other privacy tool, but as long there is access to the Internet, users can find ways to circumvent censorship and access VPN for a safe, secure, and anonymous web browsing experience.

However, there are countries where using a VPN is considered illegal, and we have covered this subject in detail by understanding the legalities of using a VPN in China and the UAE.

Such governments regularly search for ways to block VPNs and create new laws to deter VPN usage. The only viable solution for residents of these countries is to use an anonymous VPN that has the best encryption technologies to ensure that your web traffic and VPN usage are hidden from VPN monitors or Internet censorship filters.

VPN companies are also looking to expand their services and are spending huge amounts of money on fortifying their existing infrastructure to ensure that they provide the best VPN services to those who depend on them. After all, the reliability of a VPN company is of paramount importance, especially as lives depend on them to do their part in making sure that the internet stays anonymous for the foreseeable future.