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Internet censorship is far more common than you may think. If you’re used to having uncensored access to the internet, it may come as a surprise to you that some countries block their residents from accessing specific websites.

There are several countries around the world that use internet censorship. With borders reopening and international travel resuming, why not inform yourself about internet censorship before you travel to these countries.

You may find yourself stuck with censored internet access if you’re not prepared. You can bypass blocked websites by using a premium VPN service, read on to find out more about a VPN and how to use it to freely browse the internet while you’re abroad.

Which Countries Use Internet Censorship?

There are a number of different countries around the world that use internet censorship. They will often block websites that do not comply with the laws of their country. The exact reasons vary between countries.

Your access to a website can be blocked based on your IP address. An IP address is a unique identifier and one of its primary jobs is to pinpoint your exact location. If your IP address is found to be within the borders of a country that uses internet censorship, some websites will automatically be blocked, making it impossible for you to access them.

Below is a list of some countries with censored internet access. Some other countries have partly free internet which is monitored by the government, but the monitoring is not as strict as countries that block websites. Here is a list of those below;

  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • China
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Iran
  • Kazakhstan
  • Myanmar
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

It’s important to take note of these countries, as you may need to install VPN software on your device before travelling to them. The majority of these countries will also block the websites that allow you to download VPN software on your device, making it impossible to install a VPN and unblock websites once you are within the country’s borders.

Why do Some Countries Use Censorship?

The exact reasons why specific countries use internet censorship varies from one country to another. However, in the majority of cases, censored internet access comes down to either religious, legal and political reasons.

For example, in the United Arab Emirates websites will be blocked because of religious reasons. Any websites that contain explicit material or anti-Islamic content will automatically be blocked by the government.

On the other hand, China blocks websites for legal reasons. China has a track record for being a very contained, and sensitive country when it comes to its governance. As a result, in the past, social media websites have been used to coordinate attacks against the government, which undermines governance in China. Also, foreign news websites and Google have reported about the Chinese government in a way that undermines the country’s leadership. Thus, you may find that social media, foreign news websites and even some Google services are not available if you’re within Chinese borders.

How to Bypass Internet Censorship by Using a VPN

Luckily there is a way that you can bypass internet censorship in any of the countries in the list above. All you need to do is learn how to modify your IP address and trick the website into thinking that you are accessing it from elsewhere by using a VPN.

A VPN or virtual private network is used as a cybersecurity tool first and foremost. It is able to encrypt your internet traffic, which will mask what you do on the internet and prevent anyone else from gaining access to your data and internet history (such as your ISP or your government.) Not even your internet service provider will be able to keep track of your internet traffic, so you will have extra privacy and security.

This element already makes a VPN an essential tool that you need while travelling. If you’re abroad you may need to use public WiFi hotspots which are convenient and free. However, they can be very dangerous because they are mostly unsecured networks. A public WiFi hotspot or network is the ideal place for cybercriminals to target their victims. If you have a VPN activated, hackers won’t be able to breach your device while you’re on an unsecured network. Although, you should avoid public WiFi hotspots if possible and prefer to use a personal mobile data plan.

However, a VPN has one feature that is beneficial when it comes to unblocking censored websites. A VPN allows you to change your IP address by connecting to one of several different global encrypted servers. These servers are run by the VPN vendor and are specially designed. Connecting to one of these servers will mask your location and change it to a different country or city of your choice.

Once you are connected to the server you will be able to browse the internet as if you are in a different country. For example, if you are travelling in Thailand, you can change your location to the United States. This will allow you to browse the internet and access any websites that are available in the US. Also, you will have access to any streaming services (or any accounts you may have there) and media content as you are now connected to the US. You may also find that the content on your browser will change, for example, you will start to see adverts from the United States as opposed to Thai adverts.

So, now it’s time to look at how you can set up and install your VPN. Installing a VPN is as simple as following the quick step-by-step guide that we have provided for you below; 

    1. Choose a VPN provider. Each VPN provider has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to do thorough research and find the one that works best for you. Remember to avoid free VPN apps if possible.
    2. Download and install the VPN on your preferred device. The majority of premium VPNs will be readily available on all major app stores. You can also visit the VPN provider’s website and install the application from there.
    3. Create an account with the VPN provider. This can be done by simply following the on-screen instructions.
    4. Launch your VPN. Once you open up your VPN app you can choose which global server you would like to connect to. The server you choose will have an effect on the websites you can access and the content you see on your browser, for example, the type of adverts. Also, the distance of the server to you can determine the speed of your connection.
    5. Enjoy browsing the internet with peace of mind, without censorship and improved privacy and security!

It’s important to note that you should avoid using a free VPN as it has several drawbacks that could affect its ability to unblock websites. These drawbacks include slower connection speeds, limited global servers to choose from, and a daily data cap which is usually not enough to browse the internet for more than an hour. Once again, please remember that you should always use a reputable, verified VPN software provider.