Recently, there have been a number of countries blocking certain websites from access by its citizens. Countries in the Middle East and some other parts of the world have at one point or another blocked major websites like YouTube, Google, Twitter among others due to different reasons. At a great extent, this can limit citizen’s freedom from such countries from interacting freely with one another. So, how do countries block their citizens from websites? Why do they do this and for what reasons? Well, read on if you would like to know the answers to these questions.
How Countries Block their Citizens from Websites
Internet Service Providers (ISP) Filters
One of the methods and the most popular one used by countries to block websites to its users within a country is to nicely ask Internet service Providers (ISP) to do this themselves. This method has especially been used by developed countries to block its citizens from accessing certain websites. It can be easier to use this method, especially if the state owns the internet service providers. The only problem that is with using this method is that it can be quite simple for citizens to circumvent it. Any citizen can be able to use proxy or onion routing to gain access to any site he feels like.
When the government uses this method, it does it on the assumption that its citizens are not aware of any of this bypassing methods. However, it may be a challenging method to use since people get more educated on how to get around them day by day.
Autonomous System Number (ASN) Blocking
Autonomous System Number is one of the most effective ways of blocking access to certain websites for the whole country. To make this a bit simple to understand, each Internet Service Provider has an Autonomous System Number allocated for a particular IP address it controls. If a government wishes to block a certain website from access by its citizen, it can trick its infrastructure by allocating a smaller Autonomous System Number with an IP range that contains the IP of the particular website it wants to block. This creates a path of least resistance. By doing this, routers will be directed to go to its own version of the particular website instead of the website itself.
It will not matter if you will type the URL or IP for YouTube or any other site for that matter. You won’t be in a position to access it either way.
Top-Level Domain (TLD) Name Server Seizing
You have the upper hand if you are in possession of a top level domain. What you can see at the end of a domain name is what is known as Top-Level Domain. A country that is in control of a TLD is able to deny any domain name requests to it. Again for those people with high knowledge on technology, they can be able to circumvent this method. However, TLD is one of the effective methods on how countries block their citizens from websites.
Reasons Countries Block Their Citizens from Websites
Protecting The Government Image
The government may be doing some ugly things to its citizens that it doesn’t want to be known to the international communities. It may block access to various websites to hide the ugly realities of its internal struggles.
Afraid of Citizens Organizing Rebellion
The internet through the various websites is an effective tool for organizing things like flash mobs, riots, and such like activities. Governments block their citizens from accessing social networks for example in an attempt to prevent them from messaging each other. This prevents them from publicly announcing their organized protest.
Incumbent Politicians Like to Stay in Power
Some politicians would like to stay in power so badly that they block the internet to allow them rig elections safely. Failure to access the internet will not give the minority groups and other movements an opportunity to organize demonstrations.
What Countries have Blocked Websites for Their Citizens?
Saudi Arabia has 400,000 sites blocked including any that discusses matters to do with politics, social or topics that fail to follow Islamic belief.
The internet is only available at points controlled by the government. Online activity is monitored through browsing history checking, IP blocking, and keyword filtering.
China has the most rigid censorship program globally. The government filters all searches, blocks sites and deletes “inconvenient” content on the internet.