Dear misguided governments of the world,
We get it. You think VPNs are bad. You think the only reason people use them is to pirate copyrighted material. You want to oversee what your citizens do online and dictate which sites they can and can’t visit. You’re not thinking about the privacy aspect of VPNs, or how a VPN can help people access the internet from anywhere in the world. No, you’re only concerned about the piracy issue. You probably think the dark web should be banned too.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the internet works.
By asserting limits on the web, you’re building a wall between your citizens and the outside world. Banning VPNs directly infringes on your public’s right to a free and open internet–not to mention how attempts to censor the web have never been very effective.
Take Indonesia as an example. In a country where internet access is extremely regulated, nearly 41 percent of the people with online access use VPNs. Thailand, with its rigid internet restrictions, isn’t far behind: nearly 39 percent of internet users there are turning to VPNs to help unblock the web. Other countries with stringent internet restrictions tout similar statistics, and studies are showing these numbers are increasing.
But let’s move the focus away from online censorship and more toward the subject at hand: VPNs. Whether you feel the internet should be regulated isn’t the point. Instead, the question should be whether or not you’re in favor or a public that’s able to browse the web without having to worry about their sensitive information being stolen. After all, if you can track what a person is doing online, someone else can, too.
A VPN encrypts a person’s online network, making it harder for hackers, snoops, and spies to zero in on what they’re doing. It’s also a way to help prevent online theft. When a person connects to a VPN server location, they’re able to hide their IP address and take on another IP in the location of their choice. They’re able to browse and conduct online transactions without having to worry about their bank info or personal passwords being hacked. In a way, you could say VPNs actually help encourage the flow of commerce.
By imposing restrictions on the internet, you’ve only made VPNs more popular. Where VPNs were once restricted to IT professionals and hackers in basements wearing tinfoil hats, VPNs today are mainstream. From the kids trying to unblock Pokémon GO in school to the couple trying to watch Netflix in China, VPNs have become an integral part of global society. Even entire businesses have begun utilizing VPNs as a way to encrypt their entire office network.
As more people are learning about the horrors of online surveillance, the more popular they’ll become.
So, we urge you to reconsider your stance. By allowing people to use VPNs, you’re giving them the opportunity to protect their online anonymity, and you’re contributing to a more safe and open internet for everyone.