Most of us are aware of the internet censorship and relentless monitoring countries such as China and North Korea impose on their citizens. Their governments constantly block search engines, news websites, social media and more. But is the UK government that much different??
At first glance we appear to have a totally free and open internet. However over the last few years this is becoming significantly less true. From ISP?s blocking content based on ?black listed? IP address?s, the snoopers chart, the effects of Brexit and now new plans for age verification. Along with content video/music that is blocked due geo-restrictions.
1. ISP?s blocking major websites
The majority of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) voluntarily block access to a large variety of websites. These websites often (but not necessarily) contain copyrighted material. As the websites are hosted outside of the UK jurisdiction, the UK cannot physically shut them down, so instead block UK citizens from accessing them.
However, its not just copyrighted material that your ISP does not allow you to see, ISPs are allowed to filter any content they want – which is currently in conflict with the EU net neutrality regulations. The current EU net neutrality laws state ?End-users shall have the right to access and distribute information and content? – which means to say end-users (thats you!) should ultimately have the choice over filtering content.?
It was reported that in 2012 that the block was also imposed on promobay.org; a website which has now shut down, was intended for independent artists to distribute their own music and in no way related to The Pirate Bay. However due to the way in which ISP?s block not just unique domain names but also automatically block IP address?s from a so-called ‘black list? means genuine websites are blocked.
By using a VPN you can overcome these artificially imposed blocks. We highly recommend NordVPN.?
2. Snoopers Charter
You have probably heard of the so called ?Snoopers Charter? but what is it? Officially it?s the UK?s ?Investigatory Powers Bill?. The bill which has been widely criticised, is a huge invasion of online privacy!
The new chapter passed into law in 2016 allows the state to hack anyones computer, phones and other devices on a huge scale. Along with this, it allows the government to collect large amounts of data on peoples digital communications. ISP?s now have to by law monitor and keep logs of customers usage for up to 12 months. This is one of the strictest laws of any EU country!
Now you may think that all of this government held data is fine, providing your not breaking the law, right? But the collection and storage of all of this information actually puts people at risk from cyber criminals.
Whilst using a VPN can not stop the government from hacking into your phone. Using a VPN you can prevent your online activity from being logged! Its important to use a VPN that is not operated within the UK. That is why we recommend NordVPN.
In 2016 the European Union put into practice the ?General Data Protection Regulation? better known as ?GDPR?. This is essentially a huge win for EU citizens personal online privacy. It gives every EU citizens the rights to how their online personal information is handled and stored, and also gives them the rights to remove this information should they wish to.
However after Brexit is implemented, UK citizens will no longer be protected under the EU?s GDPR laws. Plus there are to date, no plans for the UK government to create equivalent laws to protect citizens personal information. Plus given the UK?s rather poor track record regarding personal online privacy (See point 2 above!) we very much doubt this is ever going to be on the UK governments agenda!
4. Age Verification
Age verification, dubbed ?UK Porn Law? will come into effect on 15 July 2019. This means when a person with a UK IP address attempts to access adult content they will be re-directed to an age verification website. There the individual will then have to pay a fee and prove that they are over 18 in order to view the content.
This law has come under a lot of criticism, whilst protecting children from adult material is important. Its widely assumed it won?t actually protect children from porn – with there being so much available on social media. Another concern is that its up to individual porn websites on how they choose to verify the persons age. Most verifications systems include you handing over your name, debit/credit card details and uploading photo ID – all of this confidential information is then supposedly, stored securely on individual independent company servers. But who actually has access to all of this information? And how secure is this information kept? Can independent verification companies be trusted?
Of course you can bypass this artificial block simply by changing your IP address using a VPN!
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