A virtual private network (VPN) is a way for users to securely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks. In simpler terms, VPNs reroute their traffic through an intermediary location to access content that might otherwise be censored or region-locked. For example, in my case, I can be in Bangkok, but the VPN makes websites think I’m in NYC.
Global Web Index conducted a study on how many people use VPNs and proxy servers around the world to shield their online activities from official sources. Turns out, among the 28 percent of global internet users who use either VPNs or proxy services, one-fifth are hiding their web identity from the government.
Four out of the top five countries are in Asia. India came in as number one, followed by Vietnam, Thailand, China, and Turkey.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Although the list of banned websites in India might not be as long as China’s, the majority of Indians who live in cities can speak English, so perhaps they want access to western news and entertainment websites. As for China, the censorship tactics are among the most advanced in the world, but most licensed video content – western and Chinese – is free, and the domestic internet is developed enough to do without outside supplements.
Vietnamese bloggers have been put in jail before, while some Vietnamese and Thais also got jail time due to some Facebook posts. Netizens in these countries face real threats when using an unprotected network. Besides hiding from the governments, porn sites are also illegal in some of these countries such as China, Vietnam, and Thailand. That could also be a reason behind high usage of VPNs.
(Source: Edge Asia)
(Image credit: Flickr user Subcircle)
(Editing by Paul Bischoff)