Online censorship is an extremely divisive and controversial topic especially for people who live and breathe the Internet, as well as those believe that the Internet is an avenue for free speech. What is online or Internet censorship? Simply put, it means suppressing what users can access, publish, or view on the Internet.
There are many reasons why some individuals or organizations may enforce self-censorship. For instance, religious, moral, or business matters can move some to restrain what they view or publish online. Fear of legal consequences may also be the reason why some put online censorship in force.
Ideally, only websites that promote illegal content such as human trafficking or child pornography should be banned. However, more and more ISPs are restricting or filtering their users’ access to some websites. It can be frustrating and annoying for a paying consumer like you to bear the brunt of online censorship and be restricted from viewing certain websites.
Fortunately, as this source will show you, there are ways to get around the harsh filtering that many ISPs have put in place. Just to give you an idea, here are some tried and tested solutions to bypassing online censorship:
Use a DNS Server
Here’s the thing: some ISPs implement website filtering by altering their DNS servers so that the servers redirect requests for access to a blocked website to another website. This is what may be called DNS-level filtering. Making the workaround work is easy if the filtering is only at this level. If it is, you can bypass the filtering by setting up a custom DNS server on your computer or device. What this does is override the default DNS server that your ISP controls to allow you access to blocked websites. However, the thing to note here is that using a DNS server is not 100% foolproof. In fact, of all workarounds, this one is the most likely to fail.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN works by routing your connection through a different server, tunnelling your online activity through an ISP different from the one you’re subscribed to. Once you start a VPN client, you’ll be made to choose from a list of IP addresses belonging to different countries, specifically those that usually have access to websites that your ISP has blocked. Basically, what the VPN does is hide your activities from your own ISP, thereby allowing you to access certain websites privately and safely. There are lots of free VPNs you can use, and some are accessible as browser extensions, which is why this is the highly-recommended option to bypass blocked websites.
Use a Proxy
Proxies function like VPNs but these are not 100% foolproof as well. That’s because proxies don’t work with every program on your computer, but only some. There are some web-based proxies you can try if you want to access blocked websites quickly. With a web-side proxy, all you have to do is input the website’s URL into the proxy server and access the blocked site through it. Just keep in mind that web-based proxies may be blocked as well; thus, these are not failsafe.
At least, if you come across a website that’s blocked by your ISP, you’ll have certain options as far as getting around the blockage goes.