On a daily basis, activists run the risk of getting imprisoned, fined or attacked when they go against oppressive regimes. Even on the Internet, governments can demand Internet Service Providers to give up any needed IP addresses and use those to track down voices of dissent.
On a slightly smaller level, simply expressing your opinion can get dangerous when faced with those who hold a dangerously opposing view. This can result in targeted attacks and maliciously intentional cyberbullying. However, there is an easy way to safeguard your anonymity as we will show you.
The need to use a VPN for activists
If you stand for civil liberty, then you are involved in a very crucial struggle, which means that protecting yourself is very important. Knowledge bases and online forums that authorities can block with complete immunity must have this same level of protection, too.
Luckily, anonymity on the Internet is easier than it was in the decades before, with a large portion of the Internet being dedicated to making sure people can browse it anonymously. A Virtual Private Network can help anyone in championing human rights by making the Internet closer to a safer experience.
A VPN achieves this by obscuring and routing your IP address (which is the online, Internet “location”, easily traceable back to your physical location). A VPN can place you in a completely different virtual location and allow you to access the internet completely uncensored.
A Single Solution to Multiple Attacks
In fact, new technologies are continually developing faster than a non-technical person expects to keep up with them. However, a VPN provides security to your online identity that protects your activity on the Internet from anyone that intends to track or monitor it. In many cases, it obscures the location by assigning multiple users the same IP address, ensuring anonymity.
Well recognized Mullvad VPN, for example, helps with its military-grade double-encrypted protection. Moreover, they are under no legal obligation to retain data (they have a no-logging policy) or share any information, being registered in Panama.
Whether it is social media that you use, a personal blog or an essay in a major online publication, the issue remains the same. The service provider can trace the location of whoever is using the Internet in that current location, by the packets of information and data sent to them.
International organizations such as Amnesty International and even spy agencies and army personnel are prone to targeted hacking or accidental data leaks. This can spell disaster if you are presenting an opinion or inviting action that goes against the interest of more powerful groups, especially if you are unable to detect it.
Accessibility to Dark Web
The dark web lies beyond what can be searched or found through surfing. Its first layer, the deep web, includes simple things like academic journals and other data not relevant to the average user. However, this also allows purpose-built forums and websites where ideas can be freely discussed and users can share related facts and data through the dark web, without government censorship.
The dark web is accessible using anonymity networks such as Tor (The Onion Router). However, ISPs can track Tor usage immediately, especially since the domains simply end in ‘.onion’ suffixes rather than traditional dot-coms. A VPN allows you to use ‘Tor over VPN’ i.e. by sending the data to your VPN first, and then to Tor; making Tor use undetectable.
Many journalists, ‘hacktivists’ and campaigners move towards the deep and dark web for the aforementioned reasons. The use of a VPN would be step number one in considering using Onion sites.
Bypassing Website Censorship
Countries with weak or no democratic processes suffer from online outages of information via the blocking of websites. This can happen anywhere at any time as this is at the discretion of many factors, much higher up.
Without this unrestricted access to all sorts of information, any group can propagate a biased and limited viewpoint through the censorship of crucial information. Even selective censorship can be actively harmful by maintaining the illusion of safety and freedom but still being able to crack down on any activity that the government sees unfit.
In 2018, only 23% of the world had a “free” status of open access to the Internet as declared by the OpenNet Initiative, a leading collective on these matters. 46% was only “partly free” and the situation had declined in 40% of the countries.
We see that protection for human rights thus lies in the hands of individuals. Organizations and governments might not have the best interests of the people in mind when enforcing laws, instead of looking at politics and profits. For this reason, and all the others mentioned above, it is imperative that you utilize a reliable VPN network.