How To Access Your Favorite Websites While Traveling In Censored Countries

Businesses Block Web Access For Valid, But Sometimes Misguided Reasons

Many businesses block their employees—or anyone on the work network—from accessing unauthorized websites for security and productivity reasons. It’s not just websites; any network resources such as chat traffic, file sharing, and many other activities may be blocked.

Security and productivity are easy to understand within a business setting. Multiple people work within a business, and one or two smarter internet users who won’t get a virus aren’t worth dealing with all the employees who will.

Espionage is still an issue, and it’s faster and even more casual than the days of spy thrillers or cyberpunk novels. Hackers can get into business networks either through accidental exposure by careless employees.

Data thieves can still do things the old way. They can either pick random targets or know of your business and try every port, exploit, and trick they can, and certain sites and services may be blocked to defend against those attacks.

Finally, a lot of entertainment sites that have nothing to do with the job may be blocked because employees want their workers to stay on task.

Why Do Government Block Websites?

For much of the free world, the idea of a website or internet service being blocked by the government is the stuff of nightmares.

Governments that enact internet restrictions do so for sometimes moral, sometimes economic reasons. It’s different from country to country, but common site-blocking reasons include restricting access to content that goes against a religion, a moral or ethical code that a specific government values, or because the site’s illegal activities are big enough for the country to take notice.

Although all of those reasons can be tied to written laws, they all conflict with one debatable point that many governments and certainly many individuals oppose: the violation of personal freedom.

So what if a website goes against someone else’s ethics? So what if it violates a religious, ethnic, or cultural norm? To governments and individuals that value personal freedom on the internet, it’s up to the individual to risk breaking the law by visiting a site.

The debate over whether accessing a site is breaking the law is a long and difficult battle. In some cases, a country has very strict censorship or market protection rules, but other legitimate sites are caught up in the mix.

Why Do Websites Block Large Groups Of Visitors?

Banning troublesome users is one thing, but why block entire regions?

Many websites engage in region blocking to protect themselves from international legal action or to protect market rights in foreign countries. The legal action issue is usually in response to the same censorship mentioned in the previous section, but the market rights issue takes more explaining.

When a musician, production company, or other media company creates a new project, sales are important. The owner wants to make sure that their sales are under control, and aside from piracy, there are a few other issues that can affect the bottom line.

How to Unblock Websites While Traveling with VPNs. How to bypass censorship on the internet when traveling?
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Many content creators sell licenses to companies in foreign countries. There may be a record company or a distribution service in a foreign country that needs total control of how their local population receives the creative product.

Why should a creator care about a foreign country? Why not control it all and let the entire world view their project whenever they want to?

In some countries, the government may have laws about what media can be consumed and may have specific companies that navigate the market. In many cases, the logistics around distributing a product may be too expensive to do alone.

Regardless of the reason, allowing people outside of the creator’s country to view certain works can ruin the release or hype plans for a local vendor. A few people sneaking a peek here and there is not as damaging as a full, virtually unlimited view of a new game or music video that may not be available in a foreign country for a long time.

Another reason to block foreign visits is to avoid overloading servers. When a new movie or game releases and the host country systems can’t handle it, it’s easier to limit traffic to the home country and block everyone else.

Getting Around Website Censors And Market Blocks

Whether your country is under strict censorship, dealing with uneven or accidental blockage because of bad firewall policies, or if you’re being blocked because of market reasons, a Virtual Private Network or VPN can help.

A VPN creates a virtual tunnel for your connection that provides security and anonymity. In the eyes of many censoring techniques, your connection becomes one of many random connections going to a destination that doesn’t matter to the system.

Once in this private tunnel, your browsing can go to the restricted sites and services. This helps with not only censorship, but with stabilization as certain networks may pass your data through additional filters. Every destination or hop in the route can cause delays or instability, and having a more direct pipe or connection can help.

Every internet connection goes through at least a few hops or routes on the internet—that’s how the Interconnected Network does its job—but certain censor and filtering systems are so inefficient that they add far too much time to a connection just to do a simply 'job of blocking'. It’s not a common problem and more of an issue with amateur network restrictions, but a VPN can help nonetheless.

If you’re trying to visit a country’s restricted websites, YouTube videos, Netflix streams, Hulu streams, or other streams with regional blocking, a VPN can help you look more local. A good VPN service will give you the option to choose a network appearance that fits your destination country.

Trying to see American Netflix? Choose an American IP address. Is there a new anime trailer that only Japanese computers can see? Pick a Japanese IP address. If you need to access blocked websites because of regional issues, picking a regional address is the first and best technique.

It’s a fairly straightforward process, and it works because most of these anti-foreign access blocks are just trying to stop massive amounts of visitors.

Contact a VPN and network management professional to discuss other benefits of private tunneling technology.


Read Next: 10 popular social networks and websites that are (or were) blocked in other countries

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