The issue of digital freedom and online censorship is coming up in the news more and more often as of late, considering many countries are blocking the use of torrents and anything else they deem as “unacceptable.” While there may be some activities online that are problematic, these different laws and regulations restrict and cripple the average internet user’s access. If you use your smartphone for browsing a lot (and more and more people are), then you know how important freedom while using it is and why you shouldn’t be restricted.
The good news, however, is that there are applications you can use to keep yourself free and able to use the internet in any way you wish to, which is what you paid for and, as long as you aren’t harming anyone, the way it should be. While not all apps that describe themselves as helpful are actually helpful, there are many that will set you free on the internet.
Here are 5 applications that should help you gain a higher degree of freedom while using the internet:
This proxy app is widely available across different platforms and seems to be optimized for ease of use and speed. Shadowsocks is clearly designed to help you make sure you aren’t being tracked or otherwise monitored, and thus this app is extremely useful for those with privacy in mind as well as a degree of security. There is a level of security and encryption built into the app as well as customization options for the encryption for those interested.
Here it should also be noted that while there are many different types of proxy applications available and that many are good, this is a type of application that you will want to do your research on as many might have malware or spyware in them, and other proxy applications simply aren’t effective in one way or another.
A Virtual Private Network
In recent months, online torrenting and online piracy are making headlines around the world and thus bringing attention to themselves. For example, recently in Australia a law was passed effectively blocking the access of torrenting sites to Australian users and now torrenting websites are being blocked off to Australian users to an alarming rate. The good news is that the websites aren’t being taken down; a wall is just being put up.
This means that for those who have a Virtual Private Network (VPN), one can circumvent these walls and act as though nothing ever happened. What a VPN will do is connect the user over an encrypted connection to an offsite secure server (often in a different country without legal blockades on websites). This effectively allows you to browse as if you were in that country and also masks your IP address which will prevent tracking by outside organizations.
Due to the benefits described above, there has been an explosion in the popularity of VPNs (some of them not as good as others), and there are quite a few on the market for consumer use right now. Due to the importance of this service now to the Australian internet community, anyone there will want to use a VPN that has Australia in mind. Everyone else will want to keep close watch on what is going on and see if other countries start to imitate these laws and possibly get a VPN ahead of time.
Lantern is a unique application for your computer (although there is reason to suspect that it could eventually work on smartphones) that will allow you to access otherwise blocked sites online. It is a crowdsourced and non-profit application that will otherwise get out of the way whenever you are using websites that aren’t blocked. Its usefulness depends on its user base because it relies on peer connections to act as a proxy, as opposed to other methods that are out there. That all being said, this one is certainly worth a try before looking at other expensive options, and programmers might like the fact that you can work with the app’s code.
An app that will connect you to other privacy and security conscious individuals, Whisper is more of a social network than anything else but will inevitably be useful in finding like-minded people to share tips and ideas with, as well as help with finding people with other common interests. It is especially interesting in that everything is anonymous so that all relationships built on the network can be a little more honest and open than usual without worry of outside interference.
OpenDoor is an app mostly designed around the idea of having a randomized IP address so that you won’t be tracked. Many apps use this principle, but this particular one has proven to be popular and also acts in part like a browser or browser extension to what you already know. While it may be not be so easily available to users in China, it might be worth it to check out in other places around the world where it is still available. It might also be best when paired with other security programs.
Thank you for reading, and may you never have to contend with internet censorship for as long as you use the internet.