Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia block VPNs after China
An investigation report released on Tuesday ranked the countries that block virtual private networks (VPNs) the most. Seven of the top 10 spots went to countries in the Middle East.
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The Open Observatory of Network Interference, an organization that keeps an eye on censorship, collected data from more than 100 countries from January 1 to May 15. This data was used in the report by the non-profit monitoring site Top10VPN. The information was mostly about how people can use the most common tool for privacy on the internet.
China was the first country to block VPN access, blocking 73% of all attempts. Iran was next, blocking 69%, and then several Gulf Arab countries.
VPNs and other privacy tools let internet users get around firewalls, keep their data more secure, and hide their IP addresses, which are like online ID numbers, from the government, corporations, and hackers.
Here are the 10 places in the world where VPNs are blocked the most:
- China 73%
- Iran 69%
- Yemen 62%
- Saudi Arabia 60%
- Oman 49%
- UAE 44%
- Egypt 39%
- Qatar 38%
- Uzbekistan 32%
- Russia 32%
Five of the top 10 countries in the world were Gulf Arab countries, which made up most of the Middle Eastern countries on the list. Still, not all Arab countries blocked VPNs at high rates. For example, Tunisia blocked only 1% of VPNs, while the average worldwide was 8%.
Most of the time, governments stop people from using VPNs by blocking access to VPN provider websites. However, there are other ways, such as forcing app stores to remove VPN programs, which can mess with how they work and make their use illegal, says Top10VPN.
Blocking VPNs and privacy-related websites is a sign of broader digital repression, according to Top10VPN, which pointed out that the 10 most common VPN blockers on its list had a Digital Repression Index score that was 10 times worse than the global average, based on data from Mendeley Data contributor Steven Feldstein.
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The Digital Repression Index based its findings on data from 2021 that looked at how the government monitored social media, spread false information, shut down the internet, and censored social media.