Although unofficially, many consider the underlying ethos of the internet to be freedom. Freedom to express ideas, freedom to gather information and freedom to exchange opinions. In reality, cyberspace isn’t quite as free as the early adopters would have hoped. In a way, that’s not a bad thing. Without some form of government and localized oversight, security would be an issue.
However, in general, there are growing concerns that restrictions and censorship are starting to adversely affect the internet. As censorship becomes more and more strict, it almost contrastingly becomes less effective, with people turning to new ways to circumvent these restrictions, such as using a VPN in Saudi Arabia, China, and other countries that restrict online access, as well as other methods of gaining access to online content. So, how strict can censorship be around the world, and how effective are the methods to circumvent it?
Censorship Gives Rise to VPN Usage
In China, the government has long had a hold over the internet. As well as restricting access to social media sites such as Facebook, locals were banned from accessing a comedy app back in 2018. Despite having 30 million users, Bytedance was forced to remove Neihan Duanzi, a platform for sharing and watching short comedy clips. Over in Saudi Arabia, it’s a similar story. All international traffic is directed through a proxy farm in King Abdulaziz City for Science: Technology.
Filtering out content focused on gambling, religious conversion of Muslims and gambling since 2001, the servers have restricted the freedom of the internet for Saudis. To overcome the hurdles, more than 20% of the population have turned to virtual private networks (VPNs).
However, for someone to embrace the ethos of the internet and use a VPN, research is crucial. . One of the main considerations, especially for those in countries such as Saudi Arabia, is security. When you’re diverting your connection through a VPN, you’re giving up some level of anonymity. Indeed, because you’re using an offshore server that may not be secure, there’s a chance it could be hacked by cybercriminals.
If that’s the case, you and your personal details may be at risk. What’s more, by masking your IP address sites, you’re essentially forgoing your right to any protect from a government. In other words, by skirting the law, you don’t have any form of recourse if something goes wrong.
Security is Crucial When it Comes to VPN Usage
Put simply, privacy is an issue when you use a VPN. Because of this, it’s important to use software with solid security credentials. With a product such as PrivateVPN, the sign-up process is anonymous, which instantly reduces your personal risk. Beyond that, it’s governed by Swedish privacy laws (the VPN’s host country). This raises another important point. In addition to a VPN’s internal security features, you have to be confident in its hosting credentials. Countries such as Sweden, the UK and the US are known for having high levels of security and regulation. In contrast, Russia and China have a slightly more spurious reputation for privacy.
As a user, you want a VPN that’s both secure and based in a reputable country. Reliability should also be factored into this equation. An unreliable connection that’s hit with multiple periods of downtime is not only frustrating but potentially dangerous. Periods where the servers are inactive could be the result of hackers disrupting the service. If that’s not the case, the idle time could present opportunities for criminals to infiltrate the servers. Either way, the end result is less privacy and more problems for you.
Using a VPN to surf the web freely and securely is great, but you need to ensure the service is reliable by reading expert reviews online first. To use an analogy, you wouldn’t put your money in a that didn’t own a safe. Similarly, you shouldn’t put your internet connection through a server that’s not secured by the latest encryption software.
Assuming you can find the right product, a VPN is a great tool to have at your disposal. As the lines between freedom, politics and security become blurred, it’s nice to know you’ve got a way to surf in a way that suits you.