Virtual private networks are a wonderful addition to anyone’s online browsing experience, regardless of which country they are living in. Thanks to great advancements in security and server protocols you can protect your identity while accessing content from all over the world.
More and more people are using VPNs to augment their internet experience and guarantee that their IP address is kept safe and secured, along with all the benefits of accessing region-based websites and content. However, there is a more important reason why VPNs are becoming more and more necessary: bypassing censorship and accessing blocked websites.
Internet censorship is a very serious subject for multiple reasons. Many are drawn to the ethics debate it entails as different countries have different rules and regulations. This makes things rather subjective and as a result differing opinions clash.
Some say that blocking certain websites is a power that each government has a right to exercise. Others say that it infringes on each individual’s own right to freely use and browse the internet, arguably one of mankind’s greatest inventions.
Many nations, particularly Asiatic ones, have been subject to varying amounts of internet censorship over the past couple of decades. Hong Kong, China, North Korea, and Singapore are prime examples.
While political dilemmas are far too complex to solve in just one article, we will be solving a much simpler matter – how you can circumvent e-censorship and acquire a free and safe internet browsing experience.
Internet Censorship in Singapore: The Who, How and Why
Just over 20 years ago Singapore’s government began cracking down on and monitoring online activity. They observed traffic and measured usage of specific kinds of sites, including popular pornographic hubs and online dating sites. Information acquired from search engines such as articles related to online piracy or drugs and weaponry were also scrutinized. Websites tailored to gay individuals or anything dispensing information on homosexual lifestyles were also considered to be objectionable or offensive.
After enough time monitoring online activities had passed, the Singaporean government established the MDA, the Media Development Authority. This organization was founded in 2003 and was tasked with a variety of media development and promotion. However, they are best known for their most controversial actions – the blocking and banning of dozens of websites within Singapore.
In 2016 the MDA underwent restructuring and reorganization and is now known as the IMDA, the Infocommunications Media Development Agency. Their actions have typically been self-described as management of online media and stimulating the Singaporean economy. However, many criticisms exist claiming instead that they restrict the freedom of speech and freedom of access to content of the civilians of Singapore.
While the exact number can only be speculated on, it is generally agreed that the IMDA has succeeded in blocking around 100 websites from the general public in Singapore.
What does Online Censorship mean for you?
If you’re a resident of Singapore then you may have already experienced the downsides of the IMDA’s media-based activities. Accessing sites placed on the block list will only yield the insignia of the IMDA or an error message provided by your internet service provider. Undoubtedly, this puts a big dent in your ability to surf the web with potentially over a hundred websites being denied to the public.
Luckily there’s a simple way to fix nearly all of these problems that also includes numerous benefits for your security and convenience: a virtual private network. Read on to find out how a VPN can help you unblock restricted sites in Singapore.
Access Blocked Sites with a VPN
Some people tend to feel a little overwhelmed when first learning about VPNs. This is quite understandable as any tool that bypasses government censorship and can access servers from literally all over the world is probably a pretty complicated piece of software. Luckily, VPNs are relatively easy to learn about and even easier to use in practice.
A VPN does many things all at once: it masks your real IP address making your computer and your online browsing untraceable to your government or your Internet Service Provider. This means you can use the internet without fear of getting in trouble. Streaming videos or downloading files via torrents becomes completely safe as long as your VPN is using modern-day encryption ciphers and protocols.
A VPN will also grant you access to many different servers. The number depends on which VPN service you register with, but it could be anywhere in the ballpark of 100 countries with over 2000 different server locations. This is a great way to access content from all over the world. If you ever wanted to watch the American library of Netflix or the British repository of their BBC content then just connect to the appropriate server in your VPN menu.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, a VPN will easily bypass blocked websites in a variety of countries whether it’s Iran, China, Singapore, or anywhere else. Not only can you access websites from other countries but you will regain access to ones in your own country.
The only problem with VPNs is that they are usually not free. It may seem like a hassle to have to pay to get access to things that should rightfully be free, but unfortunately, this is the state of things these days.
Having said that, a VPN is undoubtedly worth the price due to all the features and benefits they offer, not to mention the peace of mind in having a safe way to access any information you want.
Are there any free VPN alternatives to unblock sites?
If paying money for one is an issue then there are workarounds. For one thing, many VPNs offer a 30 or 31 day money back guarantee or a seven day free trial. You are always welcome to take advantage of these offers and test out the service for yourself. Whether it’s for test driving a VPN for the first time or just satisfying your curiosity to see what content is blocked in your country, we highly recommend you consider these options.
VPN prices can be found for relatively cheap options. Many 12 to 18-month subscriptions have you paying only three or four dollars a month. Some of the best-rated VPNs on the market offer very affordable prices.
However, if you still feel like paying is too much of a hassle then there is another option – Tor. Tor is a free and open software that allows you to browse the internet, use instant chat messaging and download files anonymously. While it is free, it does have some major downsides.
Tor acts as an internet browser which means that external software like torrents will not work. Tor is also quite slow as it reconnects you to a different location very often. It isn’t as efficient or as fast as your average VPN. We recommend it for simple browsing but not for daily and continuous use.
Extra Precautions using a VPN
While virtual private networks offer top notch protection and security, there are always more ways to make sure you can cover your tracks and further preserve your privacy and anonymity. Following the tips ahead will make your private internet browsing a near impregnable fortress.
For starters, you might want to consider paying for your VPN subscription using cryptocurrency. Many VPNs accept Bitcoin and sometimes other well-known cryptos like Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies are untraceable unlike using a credit card or a Paypal account that is linked to your email or your bank account. Bitcoin wallets each have a unique address that has no connection to your IP address. In the off chance that the VPN you use is compromised and raided by the government or other authoritative agencies then you will leave behind no paper trail. However, if you are just going to download torrents or access blocked websites, you should not have to worry about the government coming after you.
It is also very important to choose a VPN that has a strict no-logs policy. This feature simply means that the VPN you register with will not record any of your activities or your IP address or other sensitive information that can be linked back to you. Many of the most popular VPNs have this policy but it is always good to double check by reading the terms on their official website before you make your purchase.
One last valuable tip is to try and choose a VPN that has something called a kill switch. This is a feature that will instantly shut down your internet connection in the off chance that your VPN loses its connection. This happens rarely but if it does then you will be browsing the internet using your real IP address, not the proxy one provided to you by the VPN. It may not be a big deal if this happens if you were just using Netflix for example, but if it were to happen when browsing one of the many sites banned in Singapore, that could be bad news.
Internet censorship can be one of the biggest inconveniences one may face in the modern digital world. Even western regions like the UK have begun seeing some minor censorship crop up lately and the governments of some eastern countries don’t seem to be letting up their efforts.
Fortunately, VPNs have still managed to be very successful in both protecting their customers and granting them access to all the content they would ever want, and more. A good VPN gets our highest praise for giving back power to the average citizen in retaining the online presence and usage that they deserve. We hope this article has been informative and we hope you seriously consider fighting back against online censorship.