How and Why Governments Control Information

Controlling the flow of information has become a priority for many governments around the world in the age of digital communication. Just look at the recent events in Egypt which serve as an example of how digital information is parsed out in a crisis. It is important to understand how governments seek to control information, why they do it, and how you can avoid being caught in the crossfire by using your own VPN.

Isn’t the Internet unregulated?

Society has a tendency to think of the Internet as the last outpost of expressive freedom, but is it really as unregulated as one might think? Perhaps in the early days of the Web this was so, but in today’s world websites are routinely censored and blocked for a variety of reasons.

Would you like to visit a dating website while online in Saudi Arabia? How about using Skype in Oman? Or maybe you just want to watch a movie with your Netflix while vacationing in the Grand Caymans. In all of these scenarios you are out of luck unless you have your own VPN account.

Granted, all of the situations we mentioned aren’t due to some nefarious plan by a country to block information. Some services, like Netflix and Hulu, just aren’t available outside of the US. The point is that anyone who has traveled to various parts of the globe knows they cannot take digital services for granted.

How do governments control information?

Censorship and regulation of the Internet can be accomplished in a variety of ways. One of the first methods is through proxy servers / firewalls.

Some regions control information by monopolizing the ISP’s within a country. Many countries in the Arab Peninsula have ISP’s which are state-owned. These Internet Service Providers can use software to restrict website access, and they do. They block access to certain websites that they deem unacceptable in one manner or another. Many appear to be blocked for no apparent reason.

By using a VPN,  your IP address reveals that you are accessing the Internet from a location such as the US, accessing Netflix or Skype won’t be a problem. Your IP is basically telling the website that you’re in a non-restricted area. At the same time software used on proxy servers to block sites and ports will be unable to monitor encrypted VPN traffic and hence remains unblocked/unfiltered.

Proxy servers is used by many countries to block access to sites. The UK want to ban adult sites, and probably gambling sites too if they succeed in blocking sex sites.

Why do governments control information?

There can be a variety of reasons for Internet censorship, but most have to do with the politics or culture of a specific nation.

Arab countries are very intolerant of pornography, homosexuality, and anything which violates the principles espoused by their faith. In the US or UK, these types of websites don’t encounter nearly as much resistance. Arab nations take a proactive stance by simply eliminating the offensive material from view.

Those who live in democratic countries are also used to the freedom of being able to engage in political discussion and question the policies of their government. In other countries, like China, this is not permitted. Many news sites and blogs have fallen victim to the Great Firewall of China.

Finally, governments willingly cooperate with some digital media services to prevent piracy and unauthorized viewing of restricted content.

So, what’s the big deal about blocked websites?

The big deal is that some people who want to view restricted content while they are traveling can’t, even though their home country allows access. If you pay for a service, shouldn’t you be able to access that service whenever and wherever you choose?

You might think that the only people who want to access restricted websites are criminals or pedophiles. Wrong answer. What about the expatriate who is working on an oil rig in the Persian Gulf and wants to be able to talk to their family via Skype? What about members of the military serving abroad? Sure, they may be able to access unrestricted Internet while they are on base, but what if they live off-post in Germany and have to use a German ISP at home?  Many of their services will be restricted.

Even at home, Internet users just might want the added comfort of the encryption a VPN offers. The bottom line is that censorship of the Internet is viewed by some as an attack on personal freedom.

What if I do not use a VPN account?

If you do not use a VPN, it basically works this way. Every computer that accesses the Internet possesses a numerical identifier that is unique, like a fingerprint (e.g. 142.30.0.212). This is called an IP address. Whenever your computer asks a server to distribute content, its IP address is revealed. The server then knows where to send the digital content. ISP’s are given blocks of IP addresses to provide to their customers, and these addresses, in many cases, can be very accurate in determining the physical location of your computer. Enormous databases have been complied which map the IP addresses of different countries. If you do not use a VPN your location is known but with a VPN you are anonymous and traffic sent and received is encrypted.

Fight back with a VPN

You don’t have to settle for a censored Internet. You don’t have to allow a government to decide what you should look at online. You don’t have to sacrifice your local news when traveling. All of these things can be circumvented with a VPN.

If you haven’t jumped on the VPN bandwagon yet, you will. The past year alone has seen a rapid rise in the use of private VPN’s as web surfers become more aware of security and protecting their private data. When the cost is so affordable (we charge about 0.27 cents a day for a year of private VPN service), why wouldn’t you take that extra step to protect your information and ensure unrestricted access to your services? It just makes good techno-sense. Don’t get swept up in government efforts to restrict digital media, buy a vpn from VPN-accounts.com

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Egypt is a Strong Argument for a VPN Account

The recent political turmoil in Egypt has been a hot topic in recent days as tensions escalated during the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. As you consider the implications of events like these around the world, you should realize that the events in Egypt are a strong argument for using a VPN.

Internet freedom is the first to go

When Hosni Mubarak’s reign came to an end in 2011 during a political uprising, Egypt made international headlines by basically shutting down the Internet within the country. No information could get in or out of Egypt. Sadly, these types of measures are taken by many governments in their attempts to control protests. While few countries have gone to the extremes that Egypt did, selective blocking and censorship are a common occurrence in China, Burma, and many Arab regions.

Internet censorship in Egypt can happen without advance warning. If you happen to be working or traveling in the country, being unprepared for this type of restriction can hamper your ability to get reliable news or contact family members in your home country. It can be a scary thought to find oneself isolated in a hostile environment.

Imagine not being able to access vital information that pertains to your safety. This is exactly what happened to some American citizens recently in Egypt due to Internet restrictions that could have been bypassed with a VPN. Some American citizens may not have received the directive published by the US State Department ordering them to leave the country immediately because the directive was released via news outlets.

In times of political crisis, news outlets are often considered a threat. This was the case during the Egyptian uprising. Morsi’s administration sought to actively control what information could be accessed from within the country, primarily through geo-restriction, so that Morsi’s opponents in outlying areas had no way to know the uprising was proceeding.

Beating geo-restrictions in Egypt with a VPN

Those within Egypt who had a VPN were able to bypass the geo-restrictions leveled by the Morsi-led government. A VPN helped them to appear as though they were accessing restricted sites from outside the country.

Geo-restriction is accomplished via a user’s IP address. It is the most economical and simple way for Egypt to control the flow of information. There are other methods of censoring the Internet, but this type of restriction is encountered in many countries throughout the world.

In fact, there are some websites and services that are blocked as a matter of course in many nations, and some services can only be accessed by US or UK account holders. The effective solution for getting around a geo-restriction is to use a VPN that will change your IP address to reflect that you are accessing the Internet from your home country. In this way you can continue to access your local news programming and services such as Skype which allow you to remain in contact with your family at home.

What Egypt teaches us about a VPN

If there is a way to maintain unrestricted access to the Internet in Egypt, doesn’t it make sense to take advantage of it? There is no reason you should put your own personal safety at risk because you cannot access reliable news content or political blogs.

Egypt teaches us that using a VPN is becoming more important for the average citizen. There may have been a time when a VPN primarily benefitted local businessmen who wanted to remain in contact with their home office, or college students who wanted to preserve the security of their academic work, but the world today has changed. Anyone who accesses the Internet, for any reason, should take these lessons from the Egyptian uprising:

  • Internet censorship can happen quickly. It doesn’t take days or weeks for a country to restrict web content. Because many countries like Egypt either own the ISP’s or strictly observe them, sites can be blocked with a minimum of effort in a short period of time.
  • Internet censorship can compromise your safety. Preserving your access to services like Skype or Viber, and being able to monitor news that is not filtered by the state is vital in situations similar to what happened in Egypt.
  • Internet censorship can be avoided. Using a VPN is the most sensible way to avoid restrictions like the ones imposed by Egypt. Using a VPN is easy—very little effort is required to set one up—and a VPN is also economical. The VPN we offer is affordable to everyone.

Ask yourself…

Is your personal safety in an uprising worth the cost of a VPN account? Of course it is. When traveling or working in a country like Egypt, a VPN is not a luxury. It is a necessity so get one at VPN-accounts.com

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The Top Five Reasons to use a VPN

top 5 vpnIf you’re thinking about using a VPN account for your web browsing, chances are it’s because of a specific reason.  Even so, there may be some people who have heard about VPN’s but really don’t understand the primary benefits of using one. We’ve put together a list of the top five reasons you should start using a VPN today.

Increased Security Over Public Networks

Did you stay at a hotel recently and use the hotel’s Wi-Fi? Did you take your laptop to the coffee shop to check your email while you sipped a latte? Did you recently use your public library’s Internet to research a paper for your psych class? If you answered yes to any of these, you have succumbed to one of the greatest threats to your Internet security.

Public Wi-Fi offers no encrypted security to those who use it the way a VPN does. Whenever you are on a public network, your signals and data are fair game for anyone who is sophisticated enough to steal them. Hackers and identity thieves thrive on snooping public Wi-Fi.

Access To Your Media Services While You Travel

You just checked into your hotel in the UAE and decide to relieve some of that jetlag by firing up a movie on Netflix. Wrong answer.  Netflix, Hulu, and many other services are blocked outside of the United States. If you happen to be from the UK, forget accessing your bbc iPlayer account on a public network outside of the UK.

A VPN is the secure way to guarantee you can continue enjoying your media services while traveling abroad. These services identify your location based on your IP address. When you use a VPN you can appear to be accessing these services from your home country.

Evade Censorship And Content Surveillance

Many countries actively censor the content which can be viewed via their ISPs. You might be working in a foreign country and want to access your local news only to find it is blocked. A VPN account can help you avoid blocking and censored web content.

You might be thinking that content surveillance only happens in Third-World countries or nations which harbor terrorists, but think again. The good old USA and United Kingdom both have security agencies which actively monitor Internet activity. The best offense when it comes to content surveillance is a good defense, and a good defense means using a VPN.

Use Search Engines Securely

Recent revelations by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has regularly requested information from Google about the searches which are being conducted by ordinary citizens just like you. Search on the wrong term and you could be singled out as a security risk.

The world is a different place since the events of 9/11. Governments have more power to snoop and observe your online activities than ever before. Do you really want all your web searches revealed to prying eyes? Using a VPN can help you cloak your Google searches and stay on Uncle Sam’s good side.

Because You Have A Right To Your Privacy

This is the number one reason to use a VPN account. Privacy is a right that is worth fighting for, but if you don’t choose to exercise your right to privacy then you have no one to blame but yourself when your privacy is threatened.

Your right to privacy, to browse the Internet as you choose without the fear of being spied on, is sacred. The best way to preserve this right is by using a VPN.  VPN accounts empowers you with the ability to maintain your freedom.

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Bahrain Internet & how to Bypass Internet Restrictions in Bahrain with a VPN

Bahrain boasts one of the most long-standing ISP’s in the Arab Region, having begun making the Internet available in 1995. This should come as no surprise given the fact that Bahrain supports strategic military bases for many countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. About 55% of Bahrain’s population uses the Internet regularly, and a fair amount of these individuals are either military workers, expatriates, or other contractors working on projects in the private sector.

History of Bahrain

Bahrain is an archipelago which sits near the Western shores of the Persian Gulf. The largest island in the chain is Bahrain Island, which is only about 34 miles long and 11 miles wide. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both connected to Bahrain via large causeways and Iran is in close proximity. The centrality of Bahrain makes it a preferred staging area for military operations in the Arab region.

Even though Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy ruled by King Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, it is one of the most politically liberalized countries in the region. The country functions politically in a manner which resembles government in the West. The King appoints a Prime Minister and his cabinet, and there is a parliament which is responsible for making and enforcing constitutional law. In 2004, Bahrain negotiated a free-trade agreement with the United States, thereby increasing its economic standing among the Arab nations.

Internet in Bahrain

Bahrain is a regional leader when it comes to providing telecommunications and Internet service. An abundance of fixed telephone lines and state-of-the-art technology gives the Internet in Bahrain a level of sophistication which is seldom seen in the area.

It is interesting to note that an increasing number of websites are hosted in Bahrain, almost 600 at last count, many of which are blogs. There are also multiple ISP’s to choose from. Bahrain does not monopolize the telecommunications industry the way Saudi Arabia or other Arab nations do. At last count, ten ISP’s were licensed to provide Internet service in Bahrain.

Internet Filtering in Bahrain

Despite the ease of Internet access offered in Bahrain and the presence of multiple ISP’s, the Internet is still heavily monitored by the state. Web content deemed offensive is regularly blocked by the Bahrain Ministry of Information and hence the reason many would like to be a Cyber Ghost using a vpn.

Prior to 2011, the year of an uprising in Bahrain, Internet filtering was moderately applied. Since that time a new method of commercial filtering has been used by the Kingdom and it is very effective at allowing the state to control the content residents of Bahrain can access.

More than 13 people have been arrested in Bahrain for content posted on online blogs. One of these individuals, Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri, died in prison after being tortured for posting content that the state claimed advocated the overthrow of Bahrain’s regime.

At the present time, these are a few of the types of websites which are blocked in Qatar:

  • Gay, Lesbian, and pornographic websites. These kinds of sites are considered a violation of the moral values associated with Islam.
  • Dating sites such as Match.com A strong sense of family values is associated with Islam, and therefore many of these websites are deemed objectionable.
  • Political Blogs. Blogs and news websites that criticize the regime are not tolerated and are highly filtered.
  • NOTE! While Skype and Viber are still available in Bahrain at this time, there are growing indications that these apps will fall victim to a governmental block in the immediate future.

 

Unblocking websites in Bahrain

There was a time when Bahrain even went so far as to block services which allowed Internet users to surf anonymously. Thankfully, it is still possible to  unblock restricted web content in Bahrain through a VPN account like the one offered on our website.

A VPN software is very effective in allowing Internet users to access a host of services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer which are not available in Bahrain. A VPN gives you an added level of security in addition to making these websites available, something that is very important in Bahrain especially for those who also create their own web content.

To read more about Bahrain check out the following site:  bahrain.com

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KSA Internet & how to Bypass Internet Restrictions in Saudi Arabia with a VPN

Saudi Arabia, also known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or KSA, has a significant Internet presence, and it is one of the few Arab regions to allow more than one government-owned ISP to provide Internet service. Even though there are several companies licensed to offer Internet service in the KSA, only a few have exercised their right to provide service. Just because all of the ISP’s are not government-owned, this does not mean they are not government-controlled. The KSA boasts one of the strictest regimes in the Arab region.

History of the KSA

In 1902, Ibn Saud waged a military campaign that captured the city of Riyadh and led to the formal establishment of Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud had historical ties to Riyadh and Ibn Saud founded the KSA in 1932. It has grown into the largest Arab nation, encompassing over 2 million square kilometers. The nation occupies a strategic position and it is bordered by no less than eight other nations including Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.

Because of its proximity to the Persian Gulf and the expansiveness of its borders, the KSA is a country of military importance. This means that the population of Saudi Arabia at any given time includes many military troops and contracted expatriates. There are 9 million foreigners working in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the KSA controls the world’s largest oil reserve and sixth-largest natural gas reserves. This affluence and the presence of expatriates fuel a market for Internet service in the KSA.

Internet in the KSA

The largest ISP in the KSA is managed by the Saudi Telecom Company. The STC remains the major player in broadband Internet service, servicing over 160 million customers worldwide. Unlike many other telecommunications companies in the Arab region, the STC has branched out and established a presence in other nations such as Kuwait, India, and Bahrain.

Because there is such a deep penetration of the Internet in the KSA, the Saudi government chose to license additional ISP’s. At the present time, however, many of these fledgling companies have yet to get off the ground. When they do, these companies will be subject to the same restrictions and monitoring as the STC.

One can find public networks in the KSA, but a large majority of Saudi Internet users can afford service in their homes.

Internet filtering in the KSA

The STC and other ISP’s in the KSA are highly monitored and regulated by a government with little tolerance for those who break the rules. The KSA mainly accomplishes censoring of the Internet through the Saudi Telecom Company. Specific websites can be blocked, and email and chat transmissions can be monitored easily through the State’s servers. The most recent victim of the KSA’s strict regulation is Viber. These regulations should concern anyone accessing the Internet from Saudi Arabia, especially those who are guests working in the country.

At the present time, these are a few of the types of websites which are blocked in the KSA:

  • VoIP networks such as Viber. These communications networks are not easily monitored by the State and are also a threat to the nation’s telecom revenue. So far, Skype has survived, but many believe a ban is coming soon.
  • Gay, Lesbian, and pornographic websites. These kinds of sex sites are considered a violation of the moral values associated with Islam.
  • Dating sites. A strong sense of family values is associated with Islam, and therefore many of these websites are deemed objectionable. Sites like adultfriendfinder.com, match.com etc are blocked.

It is also common to find certain political sites blocked in the KSA. Saudi Arabia has been a hotbed of security concerns in regards to terrorism. This has led to an increased desire to monitor the browsing activities of Internet users in the KSA. The bottom line is that the government in Saudi Arabia can block any website it chooses, without notice, and offer no explanation for the actions they have taken.

Unblocking websites in the KSA

The only genuine way to unblock restricted websites in the KSA is by using a VPN account like the ones we offer. If you use the Internet in Saudi Arabia without a VPN, you can expect your browsing to be heavily censored.

A VPN is very effective in allowing Internet users to access Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, and a host of other services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer which are not available in the KSA. A VPN gives you an added level of security in addition to making these websites available.

On the following page you can read the latest news from Saudi Arabia: KSA NEWS

Qatar Internet & how to Bypass Internet Restrictions with a VPN

restrictions in qatarQatar is one of the most highly-connected areas of the Arab region when it comes to the Internet, with roughly 86% penetration throughout the country. Despite the widespread use of Internet service, however, the Qatar government heavily monitors Internet activity and engages in blocking websites that are considered a threat to the Qatar telecom industry or the moral standards of the Arab region.

History of Qatar

The State of Qatar is technically a hereditary emirate, having been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800’s. It is a sovereign Arab state which borders Saudi Arabia and is separated by the Persian Gulf from other territories in the region.

The country was one of the poorest in the Arab region of Western Asia until gigantic oil and natural gas reserves were discovered in the country. These resources greatly improved the overall economy of the State and created a fertile ground for the eventual establishment of Internet service.

Internet in Qatar

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) is the only technology company licensed and authorized in Qatar to provide Internet and telecommunications services. The Internet is highly regulated in Qatar and the government maintains a semblance of control by restricting the providing of Internet service to Qtel

.

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Comparatively few households in Qatar have Internet in their home. A majority of Internet access is obtained through public networks available in Internet cafes and such. Oddly enough, some of these cafes are able to bypass many of the restrictions placed on Internet access by the government, and a recent study found that a large percentage of Qatar youth were spending their summer vacations accessing the Internet in these public cafes and browsing pornographic websites.

Internet filtering in Qatar

Qatar mainly accomplishes censoring of the Internet through its state-owned ISP, Qtel. Specific websites can be blocked, and email and chat transmissions can be monitored easily through the State’s servers. These restrictions provide an overall level of concern for those who want to protect their privacy, especially for those who might be from other countries and are working in the Arab region.

At the present time, these are a few of the types of websites which are blocked in Qatar:

  • VoIP networks such as Skype. These communications networks are not easily monitored by the State and are also a threat to the nation’s telecom revenue.
  • Gay, Lesbian, and pornographic websites. These kinds of sites are considered a violation of the moral values associated with Islam.
  • Dating sites. A strong sense of family values is associated with Islam, and therefore many of these websites are deemed objectionable.

It is also common to find certain political sites blocked in these areas. The Arab region has been a hotbed of security concerns in regards to terrorism. This has led to an increased desire to monitor the browsing activities of Internet users in Qatar. The bottom line is that the government in Qatar can block any website it chooses, without notice, and offer no explanation for the action they have taken.

Unblocking websites in Qatar

While some may think using an Internet Café in Qatar is a safe option for viewing restricted websites, this can be risky. The only genuine way to unblock restricted websites in Qatar is by using a VPN account like the one offered here.

A VPN is very effective in allowing Internet users to access Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, and a host of other services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer which are not available in Qatar. A VPN gives you an added level of security in addition to making these websites available, and that added security is something you will not find in an Internet Café.

If you plan to visit Qatar you can check out this great site: qatarliving.com

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Skype & Viber Could Get Blocked in Bahrain Soon

Bahrain is the latest Arab nation to consider blocking Skype and other communications services like Viber and Whatsapp. Several other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Oman, have already blocked some of these applications, citing security concerns and a loss of telecom revenue as their primary reasons for taking action. The blocking of Skype in Bahrain could sometime during the latter half of 2013.

Countries in the region are disturbed by the fact that they cannot monitor Skype and other services. In an area which has been a hotbed of Islamic radicals, the need to shore up security has become a priority. In addition, the presence of millions of foreign workers in the region means that national telecom companies are losing money whenever expatriates use Skype or Viber to make calls or send messages to loved ones in their home country.

Many people use VoIP in Bahrain

Skype, Viber, and other similar apps function via something known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). These applications use the delivery system of the Internet to make calls and send text messages in much the same way that they are sent on a smartphone. It has been estimated that millions of people in the region use the services, and one study commissioned by the Bahrain government revealed that 100,000 people had used VoIP during a period of four days to make calls, send photos, and otherwise interact with people outside of the region.

If Skype is blocked in Bahrain many people will be affected. One solution that people are using in preparation for a state-imposed block is a VPN account. Using a VPN lets users access Skype and other blocked services by encrypting the connection. When the connection is encrypted the filters used by Internet Service providers to block sites will not be able to block the request to open a page etc since it will not be able to identify what a user is accessing or trying to access.

Blocking encrypted communication in Bahrain

Another concern is that Bahrain will eventually seek to block Skype and Viber because of the secure aspects of these services. VoIP services typically use a fairly high level of encryption to protect users from having their data stolen. This encryption can make it difficult for government officials to observe communications.

Saudi Arabia initially sought to force VoIP services to drop the encryption of data in order to spy on the communications of users. Such a concession is unlikely to be granted by Skype on account of the furor that would be generated among its customer base. The only solution left for countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is to ban the services outright.

Moral values and traditions in Bahrain

The government of Bahrain has stated that the use of Skype threatens the “moral values and traditions” of the Islamic region. Obviously, some users engage in communications which would be accepted in the West but frowned upon in Bahrain. Exchanging this kind of communication in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia can be construed as a violation of law. While there are no specific regulations which govern what constitutes a moral breach online, a lack of specifics has never deterred these countries from taking harsh legal action when behavior is deemed immoral.

Bahrain and other Islamic provinces like Saudi Arabia do not regard the law and Islam to be different concepts. They are considered to be joined at the hip, and Islamic Law is what tends to govern the court system.

How to use Skype in Bahrain

If a ban of Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp does move forward in Bahrain, there is still a way that nationals and expatriates can access the site. The method for doing this involves what is known as a VPN, or Virtual Private Network.

Almost all Internet-ready devices offered today come with a built-in VPN client. Windows, MAC, the iOS, and Android platforms all include a VPN client. In order to make it work, a user needs to establish a VPN account and then configure the VPN client with the network credentials. This is a relatively simple process which can be done in a matter of minutes.

Once the VPN is set up, a user in Bahrain can appear to be accessing the Internet from the US or another area where Skype is not blocked. Skype will register the IP address presented by the VPN and conclude that the user is in that geographical location. At the same time, since traffic is encrypted over the VPN, filters used by Bahrain would not know you are bypassing the restrictions.

In addition to being able to access Skype in Bahrain, VPN’s use a very complex level of encryption. This encryption protects sensitive data from prying eyes. In this way, users do not have to worry about whether or not they are violating the moral standards of Bahrain by sending photos, messages, or other communications that the region finds offensive.

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Sign upGet an affordable VPN account.

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ConnectConfigure the VPN on your device.

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Viber Banned in Saudi Arabia! Are Whatsapp & Skype Next?

The banning of Viber by Saudi Arabia is just the latest in an ongoing attempt by countries in the region to limit or block the usage of communication applications. The UAE only recently lifted a ban on Skype, and that service is still blocked in Oman. The Saudi regulator of telecom services contends that Viber is difficult for the state to monitor, and that Saudi telecom operators are losing revenue from international calls and text messages. The ban of Viber took effect in early June.

Those who live and work in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries in the region are finding ways around this dilemma, primarily through the use of VPN accounts. A VPN allows users to surf the web without disclosing their geographical location. Viber, Skype, and similar services are typically blocked. Using a VPN would encrypt the connection and provide you access to  the services blocked.

Why would Saudi Arabia ban Viber?

Those who subscribe to Viber can make calls and chat over the Internet in much the same way as they can over Skype. In addition, certain files can be shared by Viber users. The popularity of services like Viber, Whatsapp, and Skype has increased because the cost of using the service is much cheaper than international smartphone service.

Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is a country that still exerts a considerable amount of control over Internet freedom. The state has difficulty exerting that control where Viber is concerned. Concerted efforts are made by the Saudi government to regulate how individuals use the Internet. Some of these efforts are probably in response to security concerns voiced by other nations. The Saudi region has been at the center of much controversy in recent years, and by monitoring the Internet in a strict way Saudi Arabia would seem to be making a good faith gesture on the topic of security concerns.

Some argue that Islamist militants are using social networks and services like Viber to encourage unrest and network amongst themselves. Whatever the reason, it does not appear likely that Saudi Arabia will relinquish control of Internet services and applications in the near future.

Expatriates in Saudi Arabia affected by Viber Ban

One problem with banning Viber and other communication services in Saudi Arabia is that at any given time there are many expatriates working in the country. These individuals hail from the USA, UK, and a host of other nations. In many cases, the most economical way for foreigners working in the region to maintain contact with their home country is through a service like Viber.

Viber allows expatriates to talk to family members at home, send messages, and otherwise communicate without incurring international costs on their smartphones. Many of these individuals are using a VPN account to access services like Viber which are not banned in their own countries. There are over 9 million expatriates in Saudi Arabia, and many of these foreign workers rely on Viber and Skype for essential communication services.

Are Skype and Whatsapp next?

Despite the fact that the UAE has lifted a ban on Skype, it seems very possible that individuals in Saudi Arabia could find themselves unable to access Skype and Whatsapp in the near future. There is no reason to believe that the Saudi government would not take a similar action against these communication applications because they essentially provide the same services as Viber.

Blocking Skype and Whatsapp in Saudi Arabia would be a deathblow for communications services in the region. Skype is currently blocked by Oman, and other countries in the region such as Bahrain are also considering blocking Skype and Viber.

The protection of a VPN

When the Saudi telecom regulator announced the ban of Viber, the agency also hinted that using the applications could be a violation of local laws. This vague reference to illegal activity is a little scary when one considers how easily laws can be created and enforced in Saudi Arabia.

If one were to attempt to access the services, even if a website indicated the service was blocked, there is a possibility that this would be a violation of local Saudi law. The only way to endure anonymity when using Viber in Saudi Arabia is through the use of a VPN account.

A VPN account is easy to obtain and affordable. Windows, MAC, Android, and the iOS all come with a built-in VPN client which allows a user to setup their VPN account on a variety of devices. All that is required are the credentials supplied by the VPN provider and users can begin to access the web securely without revealing their geographical location. Many VPN accounts even allow the user to choose an IP from different areas.

It is much better to be safe than sorry when using Viber in Saudi Arabia. A VPN gives Internet users the freedom to continue using the service even though it is currently inaccessible from a Saudi IP address.

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Beijing seeking to hire internet censors

Source June 17 2009 FT

The city of Beijing is planning to hire thousands of internet censors in a fresh sign of the authorities’ attempts to tighten their grip on cyberspace.

The city will seek to employ at least 10,000 “internet volunteers” before the end of this year to monitor “harmful” websites and content, said an official at the municipal authority’s information office.

Chinese local governments and Communist party branches often pay web commentators to influence online opinion. But it is unusual for officials to admit the practice and the big recruitment drive gives a rare view of the resources China uses to try to control the internet.

The move comes amid an outcry over the national government’s attempt to ensure that every new personal computer sold in China is equipped with web filtering software. The ministry of industry and information technology notified computer makers last month that they would be required from July 1 to include Green Dam/Youth Escort – a programme developed under commission by the government – with every new PC.

Using a VPN connection, everything you do will be anonymous and encrypted via our servers located around the world. You would be able to access bocked sites with out VPN service!

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Egypt to Block Adult Sites

unblock sex sitesCensorship of the internet is a forgotten fear within every internet users mind. They may rarely think of it, but the second you mention it, wheels of panic begin to turn. Censorship of the internet? Isn’t that illegal? Not according to the Administrative Court in Cairo. A recent ruling has been issued banning pornographic websites from being viewed in Egypt entirely. The domains in violation of this ruling are now on a country wide block list consisting of all sex sites deemed “venomous and vile” .

“Letting these websites [operate] ruins moral values,” a news agency quoted the court as saying. “Freedoms of expression and public rights should be restricted by maintaining the fundamentals of religion, morality and patriotism.”

The great majority of internet users would disagree with the court ruling, however. Adult sites are a multi-billion dollar industry, growing in leaps and bounds each year. People enjoy internet sex, and look at viewing adult sites as a right they should be allowed to keep. Egypt internet censorship has never really been an issue, as Egypt is not a country that generally restricts access to the internet.

How to effectively go about unblocking porn sites within Egypt will undoubtedly gain recognition very soon. Logic dictates this through countless previous statistical studies of similar situations. Unrestricted internet access is priceless to countless individuals, and a VPN (Virtual Private Network) provides it no matter what the circumstance. A VPN keeps the internet users surfing anonymous through an encrypted connection.

So what is next as far as Egypt internet censorship? Who knows, but one thing is for sure. Breaking the proverbial ice, and allowing censorship of anything on the internet is nothing less than a historical moment. If they can restrict access to sex sites, will all questionable subject matters be subject to the same scrutiny in the courts?

Further analysis of this issue has leeds to the following conclusions. Their are strong supporting arguments for both sides of the controversy. On one hand you have the great majority of internet users in Egypt who simply want to have their internet access without any restrictions involved. Any type of censorship grabs their attention in a “What will be censored next?” sort of fashion. This could cause problems on its own, and cause new stress for the people in Egypt who use the Internet.

On the other hand, the law of nature would agree with ruling. Most people who visit sex sites would never have an honest chance with the women who are featured there. This takes away from people in reality who want and need real life support from others. Why would anyone in their right mind choose to take care of the less physically fortunate, when they can pay for the best attention in all the world? They wouldn’t, and perhaps this is the message the Administrative Court in Cairo was trying to convey with their ruling.

The almighty hand of God has delivered a devastating blow to the heart of flesh peddlers everywhere. But the question remains, was this censorship the right decision? Draw your own conclusions to this new controversy, and make yourself aware of any censorship laws existing in your place of origin.

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Sign upGet an affordable VPN account.

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ConnectConfigure the VPN on your device.

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