In the modern age, you may think that internet censorship does not exist. But this is far from the truth, many countries still censor the Internet access to some of the global web pages. This is due to either religious reasons or the content offends the country’s administration. This leads many citizens, who are eager to access the Internet to use VPN services. Of course, there are consequences whenever citizens try to circumvent the laws imposed. Many times the government will impose high fines and or jail times for the perpetrators.
Most of the content blocked by governments include: sites which contradict morals and ethics, hate to religion, sites which give details on how to bypass the firewall and access the blocked sites, gambling sites and social media.
According to Freedom on the Net report, the Internet censorship is based on the following three semantic areas; obstacles to access to the Internet, limits on content and violations of user rights. Many governments around the world have either complete control over the intranet. They re-routing searches to sites which are favorable to the government while others limit the access to certain information. Countries such as China have put in place measures to ensure that any information which may lead to un-stabilizing the communist party is blocked through a firewall.
Other countries which block the Internet access to their citizen include Saudi Arabia. This country limits access to over 400,000 sites. These sites infringe on religious or cultural beliefs. Adult content is also prohibited as well as sites selling alcoholic beverages. Expatriates living in Saudi Arabia have to use VPN service to access blocked sites. But when caught using VPN services, the country has ensured that there are penalties which can be severe. This includes either a jail term or fines which can be more than $50,000.
The most censored countries in the world are Eritrea and North Korea. These countries have complete control over what information citizens can access. In Eritrea, the president in fear of the Arab spring succeeded in crushing access to information and free journalism, leading to journalist choosing exile instead of living in constant fear of arrest. Although the Internet connection is available in Eritrea, it is through slow dial-up connections which limit the percentage of the population which has access to the Internet.
In North Korea, only 9.7% of the population have mobile phones. The Internet itself is accessible to only a few selected powerful individuals. Some institutions such as schools have a tightly controlled intranet limiting information which citizens can have access to. The most common type of punishment meted out on individuals who violate the state-imposed censorship include imprisonment. This is used to intimidate the population with the most affected countries include Ethiopia, Vietnam, Iran, China, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Cuba, and Burma. You will find out that most of the countries imposing censorship to the Internet access are communist.
But, there is a ray of hope for populations living in the countries which limit access to information. Countries such as Egypt and Tunisia have embraced the right to access to information.