If you’ve ever been blocked from a website at work, have found yourself in an unexplainable “blackout zone” thanks to sites like MLB.TV, or have arrived in a foreign country only to discover that common sites like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter are banned, you know first-hand the frustration of restricted content!
Though the U.S.A. is the land of the free, there are many instances when we cannot access the websites we wish to visit, thanks to obstacles like workplace restrictions and blackout zones.
But, that’s not nothing compared to the blocked content you’ll encounter when you travel!
In China, you cannot access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Dropbox, Soundcloud, Blogspot, certain Yahoo sites, or Google (as well as many, many more). Yes, that’s right – you cannot use Google or any of the Google suite like Google+, Google Docs, Google Maps, or Google Drive! Restrictions like this can seriously impact your quality of life and productivity, especially if you’re traveling for work.
When traveling to India, be prepared to live without Mega, Rapidshare, Bitshare and other file storage and sharing sites, regional MP3 download sites, as well as torrent sites like Pirate Bay. But, perhaps the most perplexing is India’s ban of Google Docs and Google Video. In fact, “according to digital media focused website MediaNama, a Delhi high court order passed on 23 June 2014 instructs internet service providers (ISPs) to block as many as 472 websites” (source: The Times of India).
In Turkey, their 10m Twitter users are complaining. The website was blocked after the Prime Minister vowed to “wipe out Twitter” after the site brought to light allegations of corruption.
Other countries that have put a ban on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube include Iran, Vietnam, Pakistan, Eritrea and North Korea, among others.
And, you’ll even encounter censoring in the U.K. In fact, the Washington Post stated that the UK’s ISP filtering systems have “some of the strictest curbs on pornography in the Western world.” (source: Wikipedia) The UK’s new system has been the subject of much criticism ever since it was first introduced in 2013, though Prime Minister Cameron claims that users will have the option to turn the filters off if they so choose, but this has yet to be seen. In July 2014, Open Rights Group investigated and discovered that 19% of 100,000 much-trafficked sites were being blocked in the U.K., with “over-blocked” categories including: sex education, sexual health, help with sex & pornography addiction, support services for rape and abuse, child protection services, suicide prevention, libraries, drug advice, and even parliament, government and politicians’ sites! (source: Wikipedia)
Lastly, let’s cover the issue of watching Netflix, Hulu and other entertainment sites while abroad. Unfortunately, a number of countries don’t grant access to these sites, meaning that you can’t enjoy your favorite shows, entertainment or TV programs when you’re away from home.
If all this censorship has you bummed out, don’t fret. We’ll be back next week with guidelines about how to get around blocked content so that you can enjoy your favorite websites from anywhere in the world!