How do governments censor the internet

We people from the western world know the internet as a place of unlimited possibilities. But there are also countries whose governments want to contain and prevent this. In the following text you will get to know these countries and why a VPN could possibly be the solution to this censorship.

Iran - censorship based on political and religious opinions

Iran has had problems with human rights violations and political scandals in the past and still today. This picture is also reflected in the digital reality of the country.

Because opinions critical of the government and religion are neither tolerated nor accepted on the Internet. Although every citizen of the country has access to the Internet, bloggers, website operators or other active users of the Internet must register through the country's Ministry of Culture.

Those who upload critical content despite this show of force can face jail sentences or worse. But there are also countless, mostly young Iranians who use the Internet normally with the help of systems such as Tor, FreeGate or Ultrasafe and VPNs and, thanks to these tools, also have access to platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

Tunisia - Only 40% have access to the Internet

In Tunisia, the government is using a different method of censorship. Users like bloggers do not have to register with the Ministry of Culture. However, providers are required to share personal information about each of their customers with the government.

The government has power over the personal data of its users, which makes free use of the Internet in this North African country impossible. In addition, with just 40 percent of the population, Internet usage is at a very low point.

Those who are on the Internet, however, are often tied to Internet cafes, the prices of which are usually unaffordable. In addition, all Internet connections within Tunisia are centrally controlled, which is why the government can always listen and watch all activities.

Although some progress has been made in Tunisia lately with regard to freedom of expression on the Internet, the general state of affairs is far from comparable to that of a western country.

Vietnam - the communist country with the opaque laws

Curiously, as a communist-led country, Vietnam allows its citizens free access to online providers such as Google or Yahoo. However, people's apparent freedom has a defining catch.

Because Vietnam only allows these western services if in return it receives the names of all bloggers and users who use these services. In doing so, Vietnam is revealing its style of government, which is not at all free, and revealing that it is a country of censorship.

In addition, the government of the communist state has the right to block and prosecute all content that is hostile to the government. This also includes pages that advocate human rights and democracy.

It is therefore almost ironic that the country has introduced a law against the abuse of democratic freedom. The irony of the law goes so far that it has given Vietnam's courts the option of locking up journalists.

In addition, the state of the country is using dirt campaigns in order to frighten independent bloggers so that they do not report on what is happening in the interior of the country.

China - A top censor on the internet

Although the country has a relatively active internet community and also runs a large media industry, the great Middle Kingdom almost arbitrarily censors content and information on various platforms on the Chinese-language internet.

The blocking of IP addresses, filters or search queries is just as much a part of everyday life on the Chinese Internet as the increased display and support of pro Chinese content. China's way of allowing content to be observed on the Internet, dubbed by many Chinese and foreign experts as 'The Great Firewall of China', is the humorous approach to depict far-reaching censorship and an incision in people's freedom of expression.

These restrictions put many Chinese at a disadvantage when it comes to transmitting messages or the like. However, there is also a large community of people in China who, thanks to private networks or VPNs, can use the Internet to its fullest extent.

North Korea - Number one among the censoring countries

If you look at the country's past and current style of government and leadership, it would be surprising if North Korea were not one of the most heavily censoring countries on earth.

With 4% of the population having access to the Internet, it is particularly scary. However, due to the isolation that the communist state is successfully operating, all data relating to the country are only estimated.

The fact that not even all government employees have access to the Internet illustrates the dire situation of liberal human rights in North Korea.

Are there solutions to the censorship deficit in the countries described?

Yes, there are ways and possibilities, as already mentioned, with which you, but also citizens within less liberal countries, can use the Internet without restrictions.

VPNs are a common way to do this. The abbreviation VPN stands for the English term 'Virtual Private Network', which means something like virtual private network in German.

A great VPN provider is ExpressVPN, which offers maximum protection when browsing the internet.

These networks work as follows: VPN networks provide web-based services that change IP addresses and bypass filters. These systems allow your users to enjoy the Internet in all its advantages without leaving a traceable trace.

However, it is doubtful whether this or any other possibility of completely ending censorship in the countries described. Because the power in the mentioned states still have the governments.

That is why every potential possibility is just a drop in the bucket against the fight against online censorship and its humane and social consequences. In order to really bring about a change, the western world powers would probably have to unite to find a solution to this growing problem.

Until then, however, a large part of the 'modern' society of the 21st century will live under massive freedom restrictions and may be confronted with them for life. It remains to be seen how and whether the great nations of the world will react to this.

* This article was written in collaboration with external editor J. Bara.