FAQ

Bypassing Internet Restrictions

Access to the Internet is subject to restrictions in many countries. These range from the ‘Great Firewall of China’, to default content filtering systems in place in the UK. As a result, WordPress.com blogs can sometimes be inaccessible in these places. As far as we are concerned, that’s BS.

There are a number of ways available to bypass these restrictions. As part of our commitment to freedom of speech, we have listed some of the possibilities below. Bear in mind that the most effective route will depend on where you are connecting from.

While these methods are generally legal, you should always exercise caution when deciding to make use of them, and research the situation in the country you are connecting from first.

VPNs (Virtual Private Network)

VPN services allow you to connect to the Internet through their networks, rather than accessing websites directly. These connections are often encrypted, bypass restrictions that may be in place, and are often used for secure browsing.

Advantages

  • Depending on the VPN, users can enjoy anonymity in their web browsing.
  • Users from countries that routinely block traffic to and from certain sites within their borders (e.g., China, Russia, Iran) can bypass those restrictions by using a VPN.
  • Users concerned about government surveillance and third-party data capture and retention can use a VPN to mask their web activity. The most privacy-conscious VPNs don’t even keep data logs and thus have no user information or traffic to surrender to third-parties.

Disadvantages

  • VPNs add another layer of complexity to Internet access. Users will need to select from a number of different providers to find the right VPN that meets their needs; download additional software to their computers or mobile devices; and configure the software.
  • Not all VPNs provide complete anonymity. Some may log traffic or user data. If it’s a paid VPN service, credit card and other payment information may be linked to individual user accounts, compromising user security and privacy.
  • Performance and connectivity can be much slower than standard network connections. In some cases, users may find themselves having to log in multiple times during a session.

VPN Examples

Some examples of popular VPN services are below. You should make sure to explore the best service for your own situation before making any decisions on what to use.

Setting up VPNs:

Each VPN provider will have different ways to connect to their service. Some example instructions of how to set up VPN connections are below:

Windows 8:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj613767.aspx

OSX:

http://support.apple.com/kb/ph11067 (Mountain Lion)

http://support.apple.com/kb/PH14079 (Mavericks)

iOS (iPad, iPhone):

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1424

Android:

http://www.howtogeek.com/135036/how-to-connect-to-a-vpn-on-android/

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Tor

Tor is free software that routes an Internet connection through different locations around the web. This masks where you are connecting from, and bypasses the restrictions put in place by governments and Internet Service Providers. There are versions available for many different platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android.

While similar to VPN software in many ways, Tor is distinct in that it relies on individual computers acting as nodes to route the connection through – rather than solely large commercial servers. As a result, connecting through Tor can be significantly slower than the speeds you may be used to.

More information can be found on the Tor website.

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