January was pretty eventful for Zimbabweans, the Government took away our beloved internet access and for a few days many of us who had no knowledge about how VPNs worked had to learn on the job as that became the normal way to access many popular sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even our main communication tool WhatsApp was blocked.
The Chinese government has an iron grip on the internet
Though this was pretty unbearable for us, in China that really is the norm and they have a number of apps and websites they cannot use unless they go via the VPN route. Why does this developed country have the most extensive internet censorship in the world? Well, China’s ruling party is communist and they would love to keep their “values” intact. They believe the best way to do this is by having control of what citizens have access to on the internet. The government can also delete online comments that they feel opposes their ideology and they have employed around “50 000 internet police” in order to make sure their will is being carried out online.
So which websites & apps are banned? Here are the most popular apps banned in China;
- Google Search
- New York Times
- The Independent
- Amnesty International
- ABC Australia
- The Economist
- Google Maps
- Google Docs
- Viber Medium
- Sony Music
That’s quite an extensive list and all these websites, and apps are quite popular in the west, which is why the Communist Party doesn’t want people accessing these applications. They do have some home-made alternatives but the government can monitor these homemade alternatives. Fortunately, it seems many people there are also reliant on VPNs in-order to bypass this block but this block makes ours from a few weeks look like child’s play. If we are not considering the time when the entire internet was actually shut down, that it is.
One notable name missing
You may have noticed that Microsoft is missing on this list even though they are a large American company. Why is that the case? Well, earlier this year Microsoft’s Bing was actually banned but China later called that a mistake and allowed access to the service once again. It seems the Chinese government is more tolerant of Microsoft but some believe the Chinese market hasn’t been worth the trouble for Microsoft.