What Is The Issue With Internet Censorship?
The free flow of information in the 21st century is a myth. Today, almost all online content is controlled by internet censorship. But it is worth noting that there are still free and independent internet portals that somehow influence public opinion.
Let me remind you of the famous case of Edward Snowden. He was perceived in his homeland as a traitor, and many sought his extradition for leaking secret information from the intelligence services of the United States. For the rest of the world, he was a hero who was not afraid to tell people the truth.
Another example of total control over published materials on the internet is the People’s Republic of China. Here, there is strict control over any online activity of citizens. The country has banned many foreign apps, websites, and independent media. This total control has led to the formation of a new Chinese culture, which is beginning to spread to other countries.
Besides, it is no secret that Google is a massive database that holds a huge list of user queries and along with all of their users’ data. But did you know that Google is working with the NSA?
Surprise! Yes, Google has created a special ‘dropbox’ server that the NSA can access. So, directly or indirectly, an intelligence agency like the NSA has access to all of Google’s stored data.
Of course, data control is not internet censorship. It is just part of the censorship process. No doubt with all of this received data, it is easier to track and set new rules for internet bans.
So, let’s consider the topic of Internet censorship and the possible ways to avoid it.
What is Internet censorship?
Internet censorship is a concept that reflects certain online restrictions. This applies to your ability to view various websites or to use various applications or services.
As a rule, internet censorship occurs at the state level. In other words, to prohibit an online resource, the state must issue a decree or law. But we cannot exclude cases of a private nature. For example, the ban may be implemented by a state on behalf of the provider if it opposes any internet content.
There is no doubt that censorship is a two-sided coin – it has a good side and a bad side.
What are the pros of Internet censorship?
First, it restricts access to violent, obscene, or dangerous content on the network. This is aimed at protecting children from viewing content that can negatively affect their psychological and emotional development.
Second, it helps to control illegal activities. A huge proportion of illegal activity and cyber threats today are carried out through the internet. Therefore, if you restrict access to suspicious sites and services and refuse to promote malicious content, you can significantly reduce illegal fraud.
Third, it restricts the publication of fake news. Disinformation or “fake news” is a powerful impetus to various incidents and disagreements in society. Unfortunately, today, a phenomenon of fake news is becoming more and more popular. Phishing websites promote fake news everywhere. And it is used more and more to influence public opinion. In turn, it affects the political and social situation in the countries.
What about the cons of Internet censorship?
Conversely, the obvious drawback of Internet censorship is that it restricts everyone’s right to view the internet content they want to see. A free internet allows users to publish any content and make it accessible to everyone. This includes the free expression of thoughts, views, and ideas.
Next, censorship blocks the publication of truthful information. Along with various fake websites and news, you can often find that real news published on behalf of the opposition or independent media is being censored. In other words, there is only one media outlet in the country, controlled by the state, and people do not have a choice of specific information sources.
Besides, Internet censorship is an expensive process. For its implementation, money is taken from the budget. Most often, this is taxpayer funds. One interesting fact is that on average, internet censorship worldwide costs countries nearly $ 2.4 billion per year. India alone spends about 90 million dollars per year. What a massive budget!
What about internet censorship in other countries, and is there internet censorship in America?
Which countries censor the Internet?
Attitudes to internet censorship vary around the world. Some countries do not see anything wrong with a free and accessible Internet. On the other hand, some states have found it necessary to introduce strict rules of censorship on the internet.
Here we can distinguish two countries that treat Internet censorship in completely different ways: America and China.
America has practically no open internet censorship, since first amendment rights protect citizens’ online activity. However, certain restrictions do still exist. They relate to specific content that contains libel, pornography, or intellectual property violations. So, we can say that internet censorship still exists in America, but it is very limited by citizens’ rights.
The opposite situation happens in China. Here, there is probably the strictest Internet control in the world. China blocks any objectionable content. This includes sited that are banned for reasons like those in America, but also websites that publish information about protests, freedom of speech, and current independent news. For example, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more are banned there.
If you are interested in Internet censorship around the world, you can see how it is carried out in your country.
How to bypass Internet censorship?
Some good news still exists if you live a country with internet restrictions. There are several working ways to avoid Internet censorship in almost every country.
To save you time, we’ve prepared the list of the best variants below.
1. Use a VPN
Using a VPN is one of the most popular methods to bypass site blocking. As a rule, VPN allows you to change your IP address. Technically, you can change your ‘location’ to be anywhere in the world where the resource you need is not blocked.
However, you should only choose a high-quality and paid VPN. Others, unfortunately, do not perform their main functions very well and, worse, may not really be secure.
2. Use a smart DNS
Smart DNS services are somewhat similar to VPN services. However, a significant advantage of using a VPN is security. In the case of a VPN, all your traffic is routed through another network, while smart DNS only changes the information websites receive about your location so that they will give you access.
But DNS services are not for you if the authorities in your region monitor your behavior based on the sites you visit. DNS services do not encrypt traffic and do not change your IP address.
3. Use a Decentralized system
In 2020, we need to forget about the notion of a centralized system forever. Today, it has been completely replaced by a decentralized one. It has many more advantages and a high degree of encryption.
For instance, Utopia is an encrypted ecosystem based on a peer-to-peer architecture. In other words, it does not store user data in one place. Instead, data is encrypted and stored on a network of user’s devices.
Moreover, it is anonymous. With the built-in Idyll browser, the user can visit absolutely any sites on the internet, without enabling hidden mode or VPN. No one can track the user’s movement on the network.
Internet censorship is a tricky topic in today’s world. Each side of the coin – the citizens and the state – will always have their own point of view.
But, is it possible to reach a consensus? Obviously, not.
Therefore, you should look for other ways to access the information you need on the internet easily.
Wow, the situation with Internet censorship in China impresses with its size. I hope that people have learned to bypass such information control and still have access to independent media.
Good afternoon, Peter! You are right! Today, the situation with Internet censorship is the most severe in China. The state has banned access to popular messengers and browsers, and there are almost no independent media in the country. However, thanks to different VPNs, decentralized networks like TOR and Utopia, citizens still have access to the World Wide Web.
Such an informative article that opens the eyes to many things. Looking at the Internet censorship map around the world, I’ve realized that many democratic countries still implement policies to control the internet. However, who controls the Internet? I mean in a global sense.
Good afternoon, Olive! Thank you for your feedback! According to research, 8 corporations have taken over the Internet: Alphabet, Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Baidu, Facebook, Microsoft, and Tencent. These giants impact all users in the world because they own search engines, social networks, and global trading platforms.
Can you answer the question, please? Is censorship illegal? Today, everyone has the right not only to freedom of religion, speech, and occupation but also to freedom in the Internet space. For example, I want to decide which sites to visit and information to read.
Hello, Kio! Yes, we can:) In fact, internet censorship is a legal procedure of each state. Its implementation requires the necessary conditions. For example, the published statements and evidence contradict the morals and foundations of a particular society and destabilize state policy. In many countries, Internet censorship is legalized at the state level. The government even passes certain laws to regulate the Internet space in the country.
Good article, thank you! It was interesting to learn that there are definite reasons for censorship. However, each of the points can be made independently, without bringing the problem to the state level.
Good afternoon, Mary! Thank you for your support! When we collected information for this article, we were surprised at how many people support Internet censorship. Although it completely contradicts freedom of speech.
Do you know if there is Internet censorship in North Korea? Or maybe, people use their Internet resources without access to the world wide web at all?
Hello, Hill! North Korea is one of the few countries where access to the global Internet space is impossible for ordinary citizens. There, its internal network exists, which has several analogs of popular Internet tools. More information about Internet censorship in North Korea, you can read here. Enjoy the reading!
Thanks a lot! You could explain the main internet censorship pros and cons. I thought that internet censorship is something that happens in China or North Korea. But it turns out that it is almost everywhere. Somewhere more, somewhere less. Wherever we live, we need to find a way out of this censorship, which contradicts all the norms of freedom of speech.
Good afternoon, Fred! Thank you for your feedback! We tried to highlight the main pros and cons of internet censorship. Unfortunately, this is the problem of the entire world, not an individual state. Therefore, we must stand together and resist any attacks on our privacy.
Hi! I appreciate this theme so much:) Did you know some anti censorship methods? Please, could you suggest something new instead of a VPN or TOR?
Hello, Jess! The methods that you have listed are considered the most secure and popular. However, few people are aware of the decentralized Utopia P2P network’s existence – a highly protected system within an internet system. It works using the latest encryption methods and is completely anonymous. If you want, you can try to implement it and share your impressions with us.
Thanks. I’ll try to use it:)
Cooooool article:) So many countries have censorship policies on the Internet. I’m in shock. I thought that we live in a democratic society where everyone decides what sites visit, what media reads, and what movies to watch. Is there any other censorship news?
Good afternoon, Linda! Thank you for your feedback:) Did you hear that Donald Trump signed a decree on the regulation of social networks in the United States? You can read more about it on our blog. Stay in touch with all news and updates of the digital world with us.
To be honest, I support censorship on the Internet. I believe that this is the only way to stop fake news from publication.
Hello, Arthur! Thank you for your feedback! Only careful verification of instant news can help to avoid the publication of fake news. There were many cases when journalists found a hot news and tried to publish it without even checking information actuality. That’s why fake news censorship has nothing to do with it.
Hi! Well-written article! Thanks a lot. Did you know how many websites blocked in US? It seems that I have free access to any sites, no matter state or independent
Hello, Shell! Fortunately, there are no globally blocked websites in the US. We suggest that the main reason is decentralization. The US internet is more decentralized and not controlled by the government, like in China.
As a rule, censorship puts a limit on what sites? Does this apply more to independent media or even to some social networks? Very often, I face some blocked news portals but not social networks or entertainment sites.
Funny picture! I like it:) I faced the problem of censorship in China when I’ve worked there for two years. I had to use many other programs that opened access to the world wide web without censorship. It was a difficult time but a very memorable time.
Good afternoon, Hoffman! Thanks! We did it by ourselves:) China really has one of the strictest policies on internet freedom.
“Tell me what company you keep and I will tell you what you are!” The best proverb of all time. And most importantly, it is suitable for absolutely any case. For the issue of internet censorship as well. I wanna say more: if I find out that a person uses popular internet tools without secure measures, I’ll stop any communication with him.
Hello, Emma! Thank you for the good proverb! You are right. It suits for any case. You are such a strong and confident person. We envy your determination:)
Do you know how censorship now happens during a pandemic? Do you think that states keep silent about the real scale of the global tragedy associated with the spread of coronavirus?
Good afternoon, Gigi! We live in stressful times. However, humanity has faced similar pandemics many times. But in the digital age, to keep a secret becomes very difficult. There are both reliable facts and fake news. So, many countries tighten their censorship policies.
Reading your blog, I need time to understand the complexity of what is happening on the Internet. However, these thoughts open my eyes to many things that previously seemed not so important. Thank you a lot for this!
Good afternoon, Ed! Thank you for your feedback and support! Our team works for the benefit of the whole society. We defend our rights on the Internet and look for all possible methods for this.