Internet censorship in the Middle East

Internet Censorship in the Middle EastAll of the sixteen countries in the Middle East are implementing very strict Internet censorship. So, if you are in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others, you can expect that there are many blocked websites. The usual kind of restricted sites are those that contain pornography, gay and lesbian content, online dating, illegal gambling, and anything against their culture and religion. While some parts of their Internet rules are considered good, there are policies that seem to be unfair with some Internet users.

In some areas in the Middle East, VoIP services such as Skype are banned. Some countries even ban political news and commentaries. In several occasions, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have been blocked. In February 2014, the Turkish government implemented a new and stricter Internet law. All Internet providers were required to store all the activities of all Internet users across the country for two years. In addition, the state is allowed to check these online activities any time they want.

The government in these Middle East usually imposes three ways of controlling the Internet. Besides implementing strict laws and having full control over the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), they also contact huge media corporations. These corporations receive informal requests from the government not to post controversial news and articles online. In some critical websites, they contact the website owner directly and advise him to remove discouraging posts or delete the entire website.

With these scenarios, many Internet users have no other option but to try different ways to bypass Internet filters in their country. Some are successful, while others are caught. So, if you want to try any method, you should make sure this is the best solution. The truth is, you can never find a perfect system that will allow you to block the restricted sites without being detected. However, there are less risky solutions and there are those that have almost no risk at all – VPN (Virtual Private Network) providers.

Just like other methods, VPN hides your real identity and geo-location by providing you a new IP address. With a reliable VPN, you can still be seen logging in but not as someone in the country where you are. This way, you can now bypass Internet filters in any country around the world including the Middle East region. Depending on the security level that you wish, no third party can intercept your data, not even hackers and any government. Most VPN providers don’t store information and activities.

But unlike other proxy sites and other methods, all of the information you send and receive is encrypted. The level of security only depends on which type of VPN you choose, but all the protocols are effective. With a reliable VPN, you can be seen logging in but all your activities are hidden. It will take a very sophisticated decryption system and effort to be able to decode your data. However, not all VPNs are the same. Paid VPNs are much better than the free ones, unless you don’t care much about your security.