Internet Censorship Explained
By Nick Anderson 5 minutes
Decades have passed, and the internet remains one of the greatest things that exist today. The core tenant of the internet is a free and open space where anyone can access and benefit or contribute. But it’s an optimistic view that doesn’t depict reality. In reality, the internet is subject to censorship that exists in nearly every country in the world.
These censorships support a safe internet experience for everyone, especially kids, but much of it is flagged under national interest. Governments around the world restrict internet access to curb freedom of speech or whatever they deem necessary for the national interest.
The severity of censorship varies between countries. Democratic countries are likely to maintain moderate control over censorship, whereas totalitarian governments exercise severe censorship and limit what can be accessed from within the country.
Censorship is not limited to governments; it can filter down to entities that enable you to access the internet. On a macro level, a government dictates what kind of content is allowed, and the Internet Service Providers or a regulatory body that oversees them will initiate that plan in action. If you work in an organization or study at a university, then the chances are that you will face some censorship as well.
We’ll discuss all such censorship practices in our blog, and also show you a simple way to bypass them.
How Internet Censorship Works
We tend to think of the internet as this free resource that’s open to everyone regardless of what time or device we use. But the fact is that there is an entire local infrastructure making it possible to access the internet.
The Internet Service Provider (ISP) is your gateway to billions of devices on the internet. The term internet describes a global network of devices virtually distinguishable from each other and able to communicate through physical laid around the world infrastructure. Data makes several stops before it finally reaches the destination. Some ISPs may connect to a bigger, other ISPs to access the internet.
The ISP is responsible for handling everything, even something as simple as visiting a website. The request first makes a stop at the ISP, who then looks up its DNS server to find the correct domain name. The webpage you requested travels to the ISP and then back to you. It all happens so instantly that we never suspect anything other than our device and the destination server is involved.
Because the ISP is aware of what you want to visit, it can censor certain keywords or websites. It will prevent you from accessing the requested content.
More stops get added as you rely on others to serve you access to the internet. Corporate networks may limit internet access to prevent users from accessing social media accounts at work, just like limiting the amount of bandwidth they can consume. Similarly, universities can filter access to pornographic and websites that serve copyrighted content.
It should be noted that censorship is not geo-restriction. Geo-restriction is based on regional regulations and the content’s availability to only select regions. For example, an online e-commerce store would offer different price points for some regions only. Streaming services such as Netflix will curate its library for regions where the content has not been regulated, or the publisher has not allowed the content for all regions.
Countries with Strong Censorship
Democratic countries follow a strong principle of allowing the outcome of deliberation between two opinions to dictate rules, such as free speech and the right to privacy. But countries ruled by regimes have strict censorship in place. Such countries include China, North Korea, Iran, and the UAE.
China, for example, has the Great Firewall, which restricts some parts of the internet to its citizens. Websites and services blocked in China include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, DailyMotion, The Guardian, Bloomberg. The list is big and includes many significant names.
How to Bypass Censorship
Some countries outright ban the use of VPN services because they know it can get past the censorships. VPN services bypass Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), which is a way to detect what activity a user is doing, not just what destination it wants to go.
FastestVPN connects you to one of its global servers and tunnels data packets encrypted. What that means is that the ISP cannot see what websites you are visiting and the contents of the data packets. FastestVPN uses its DNS servers to serve your web requests. OpenVPN runs on Port 443 that the ISP cannot block because it’s used for HTTPS traffic, and blocking it would mean completely blocking the internet.
Encryption is the crown jewel of a VPN. The AES 256-bit encryption security employed by FastestVPN ensures the toughest form of security against third-parties.
Privacy and access to the internet in its totality is the right of every individual. Governments, ISPs, and organizations make it impossible to achieve the dream, but a VPN makes that a reality. FastestVPN gives you a global list of servers at your disposal so that you are always one click away from regional content.