March 5, 2015
In order to understand what the connection between freedom of speech and VPN, we must first look at the definition of VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network that allows people to access networks outside of the controller of the network, e.g a government. VPN allows people the world over to access websites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and other global websites. There are a number of countries that have set up firewalls that disable their citizens from accessing such sites as well as even government sites.
VPNs have their advantages. Companies that require their staff to access internal information use VPN to allow this to happen both on and off-site. This means that you can access sensitive information over this point-to-point connection from your organization. A VPN network ensures that an organization’s information if accessed by an outside party will be able to detect this fact and then allow the outsider to view this information in its encrypted format.
There have been situations around the world that VPN networks have been blocked or restricted by various countries for political or cultural reasons. The most recent situations have been seen in China where the government has restricted access to popular sites such as Youtube and Facebook. This has been done by setting up firewalls that block some of the major VPN service providers from letting the public access such websites. The ban is so high that even popular sites such as Google cannot be reached. The restrictions mean that the state can dictate what, where and when the public can access over the internet. This is a move that the country has stated is a means to protect information from China as well as help curb corruption. The good news is that corporations are able still use VPN to access their internal information. Some VPN providers are working to restore services and have advised the public to use the service during off-peak hours.
Pakistan is yet another nation from the East that has enforced bans over VPNs. It has tried to ban Facebook and Youtube over the years. The government is able monitor content that travels over the internet and are able to shut down sites that are not favorable to access. This move has encouraged a number of youth to start up variations of Facebook that are more Muslim-skewed and allow users to access information and be clear of sites that promote pornography or other wrongs in society. The important thing to note is that the founders of the sites have stated that all are welcomed to use the Facebook-like sites regardless of their religious background.
The internet has enabled the world to connect to family, friends and other contacts worldwide to share news, views and information. Such restrictions on VPNs make it hard for those in affected regions to access or pass information or news to the rest of the world. In some cases, VPN restriction may help to monitor situations such as terrorism and crime in general but the freedom of speech allows the world to express itself in real-time.