Internet censorship, what is it? And how do you get around it? Clear explanation


There are several countries where there is a certain degree of Internet censorship. In practice, this means that if you are in a country where there is internet censorship, you will not be able to visit and use certain websites. The reason given by governments for a certain level of censorship is that certain information is prohibited in that country. The most telling example of this is that Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and other popular services cannot be used when you are in China, but the censorship often resembles government self-protection. These governments simply do not want certain information (which can often be harmful to the same government) to be available for consultation by the inhabitants of the country in question.

Internet censorship, what is it? And how do you get around it? Clear explanation

Internet censorship techniques

Because the internet is basically an open network where anyone with an internet connection can access all information, it is difficult for governments to make information inaccessible to its inhabitants. Nevertheless, many solutions have been found to block websites and other online services. The most commonly used methods for internet censorship are: After publication, it can also be urged to take the publication offline.

Bypassing Internet censorship with VPN

With a VPN it is possible to bypass most of the above techniques that allow censorship. It is only when an essential router is removed from the network that a VPN does not offer a solution . For all other commonly used censorship techniques a VPN is the solution to bypass the censorship and thus use the services you want to use online. In this way it is possible to keep access to your Gmail account, Facebook and Instagram in countries where this is not normally possible, such as China, Russia and Iran. An additional advantage is that you can also directly bypass geographical blockades, with a VPN you can, for example, use the NPO app to keep track of your favorite series and the news abroad.


ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN service as you can see from our list of best VPNs. This service supports many different protocols and has servers all over the world. This means that it is very difficult for countries to block ExpressVPN users from the Internet. What's more, ExpressVPN is made for all kinds of devices, so you can easily use it on all your devices. Also the speed is very good so that you do not even realize that you are using the internet through a VPN connection. The costs for this VPN are a bit higher than for other VPN services.  For this you get a real premium service in return that always works well.


This service is a lot cheaper than the above mentioned ExpressVPN. NordVPN sometimes scores a bit less than ExpressVPN in some areas such as speed, but for those who simply want to bypass internet censorship this VPN service will do just fine. By the way, there are more cheap VPN's that can be sufficient to bypass the internet censorship that is prevalent in some countries.

How does that work?

With a VPN, all your internet traffic goes through a VPN server outside the country where censorship reigns. The server outside the censored country retrieves the information you want to see and sends it encrypted to your computer, phone or tablet. On your device, the data is decrypted so that you can view the requested information. Due to the fact that the data between your device and the VPN server is encrypted, it is impossible for the censorship filters to block your access to certain information.

Where internet censorship reigns

There are many countries where there is more or less censorship. There are also countries of which you might not expect it; for example the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, the court has decided that certain providers must block access to the pirate bay. This is also a form of internet censorship. But there are a number of countries where internet censorship is much stricter and you can also get in trouble because you visit that country.


China is the most famous example for internet censorship. The so-called "great firewall" is the result of the government's desire to control the provision of information in China. At the time of writing, for example, it is impossible to use Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Gmail, Google and many other online services. This is of course very annoying when you are there for work or holidays. With a suitable VPN for China you can avoid this problem.


Another country where many people go from the Netherlands is Turkey, which is usually for holidays, family visits or work. Turkey has a history of shutting down and/or making certain online services inaccessible. For example, it has regularly happened that the Turkish government blocked access to social media such as Facebook and Twitter.


Iran is also known for the fact that many websites and services that can be used in the Netherlands cannot be used in Iran. Think for example of the majority of Western news websites such as BBC and CNN. Also popular social media such as Instagram and Facebook are not to be used in Iran. Gmail and other Google services are also frequently unusable in Iran.

Other countries

There are many other countries where, to a greater or lesser extent, you may encounter Internet censorship. However, the countries mentioned above are the countries where most Dutch people will encounter relatively the most problems.  On the map below you can see the different countries where there is a degree of internet censorship, you will notice that actually most countries in the world have some kind of internet censorship. As you can see there is even some kind of censorship in the Netherlands, for example the torrent website the Pirate Bay is blocked by court order of some internet providers.

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