Circumvent censorship

Internet censorship is the control of what you can access on the Internet by governments, ISPs or other regulatory bodies. This varies from country to country, and in the UK Internet Service Providers filter content by default unless you chose to ‘opt out’, under government rule.

The categories of websites blocked by major ISPs include: Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, File sharing, Gambling, Pornography, Nudity, Weapons, Extremist material as well as Hacking and Web-blocking circumvention tools. Category filtering of content can create ambiguity, resulting in over-blocking and restricting access to websites which are otherwise educational or charitable.

You can check out which websites are blocked by default in the UK with this OpenRights Group tool.

Censorship circumvention tools rely on gaining access to an Internet connection which is not subject to the same censorship laws. There are a variety of techniques which can be used to bypass filtering, including VPNs, proxies, alternate DNS servers or dedicated software. Some of these provide circumvention, but not all will anonymize the user.

The following tools are useful when dealing with a filtered Internet connection:

Tor Browser

Tor browser provides you both with anonymity and a way of accessing sites which might otherwise be censored. You can download it from the official Tor Browser page.

VPNs

You can access websites otherwhise blocked in a country by using a VPN, short for ‘Virtual Private Network’. These provide users who experience internet censorship with a secure connection to a more permissive country, allowing them to browse the web as if they were situated in that country. While some VPN providers offer their services for free, here’s what you should know first

Proxies

Configuring a web proxy lets you access the web through a remote connection, which itself needs to be not censored. Here’s steps on how to configure proxy settings for Mozilla Firefox. Only use trusted proxies.