Censorship happens throughout the world. In some cases, we’re used to them. In others, they are almost a completely different world.
The traveling is when we most come across the significant blockages in freedom, whether that be through what we wear, how we communicate or, most commonly, what we can consume online.
Online censorship is incredibly tough in many countries, not allowing for any media to be consumed that isn’t pro-governmental, locking up those who dare to cross such rules.
For travelers, this can be quite a problem. Even watching Netflix or connecting to Facebook can be almost impossible.
Thankfully, there are ways around it and a VPN can really save the day.
That’s because they work by allowing users to connect to use their internet connection to browse from a different server, elsewhere in the world. A site will then recognize you’re browsing from a different geographical location and unblock any sensors that were in place.
There are dozens of completely free VPN services available these days including the likes of ProtonVPN, HideMan and Hide.me, all of which will help you bypass any problems you might encounter.
But which are the countries where you’ll suffer most from censorship?
Since 1993, Eritrea has endured the same leader in President Isaias Afewerki and much of day-to-day life is heavily censored.
All independent media was shut down in 2001, with any news now having to promote the national objectives of the country.
They’re a severe jailer of journalists and internet access regular sees signal jams. Access is monitored by the government and only this year the country say a government shutdown of social media.
It continues to be a country that struggles due to its regime and shows no sign of that changing any time soon.
It isn’t necessarily a tourist hotspot, and in fact, you will be widely advised not to travel within 25km of the country unless absolutely necessary.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is Africa’s longest-serving head of state and has a really tight grip on what’s reported and how the population consumes media.
If you’re in the country without a VPN, you’re certainly not going to be watching Netflix and chilling out. In fact, you will find yourself struggling to connect to others via social media too.
All broadcast media is government-owned and international broadcasters can’t broadcast anything which may damage the reputation of the leader.
The same applies to print and online journalism, with any potential threat to the regime seeing huge consequences.
It’s believed that one particular journalist came home from El Salvador to renew his passport and was set up on false charges of counterfeiting and money laundering based upon political drawings he’d previously sketched that the president didn’t like.
A country you may find yourself in is Iran, and there is plenty to enjoy in the country with dramatic landscapes and some relatively fancy hotels and dining opportunities.
However, the Middle Eastern country has strict online censorship that has caused plenty of controversy in recent times.
Facebook and Twitter are completely banned in the nation, so you’re required to use a VPN to get around that, while some Iranians are even being inventive to bypass security building satellite dishes too huge success.
Online censorship has been a precarious subject in the country since the Arab Spring with the government recognizing its power both in favor and against their regime.
Saudi Arabia is growing in popularity as both a business and vacation destination and with that is becoming more liberal in its attitudes.
The government has recognized this and relaxed certain rules, but online censorship is still quite severe.
Only this year Netflix removed the episode of Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj due to its critical nature of Mohamed bin Salman, the Saudi Prince, which is undoubtedly a step back for censorship and free speech.
You’ll generally find blocks in place on any content that doesn’t follow the values of Saudi Arabia, so content such as adult entertainment, LGBT, anything political which doesn’t promote the same values and much more.
Many people these days do use a VPN and in the five-star hotels and restaurants, you’ll generally be able to find a good enough connection to access sites from back home, in comparison to other countries which also have poor connections.
As well as the above countries, you’ll also find significant censorship in the following popular travel destinations:
And many more. So it’s well worthwhile investing in a VPN before traveling to ensure you have full access to everything you need, no matter where you are in the world.