Virtual Private Network (or VPN) is a service that encrypts your network traffic between your laptop and a remote server on the Internet. As VPNs have tunnelling capabilities, your Internet traffic remains hidden from your Internet Service Provider. This makes VPNs a useful companion for evading Internet censorship.

As VPN is a service, it needs to be operated by someone. It can be either self-hosted or ran by a third-party. If you are a beginner, we advise you to rely on a VPN provider with a user-friendly privacy policy.


Evading Censorship with Third-party VPNs
Difficulty:

privacytools.io

A community managed list of trusted VPN providers backed by Reddit. Community criteria includes considerations such as no logging policy, residence outside the US and a sign-up process with as few personal details as possible.

The latest list is available on privacytools.io

'That one
privacy guy' VPN
spreadsheet

A community managed spreadsheet of third-party VPN providers with hundreds of services on the list. The spreadsheet scrutinises VPN providers by jurisdiction, privacy and security practices, technical features and capabilities. If you have plenty of time at your disposal to choose your preferred VPN provider, this list is definitely a good start.

The latest spreadsheet is available from That One Privacy Site

TorrentFreak List

TorrentFreak's annual research on VPN providers taking privacy and anonimity seriously.

Access the annual report from here

Bitmask

Bitmask is an open source application to provide easy and secure encrypted communication. With Bitmask VPN, all your traffic is securely routed through the provider before it is decrypted and sent on to the open Internet.

The development of Bitmask is supported by Riseup, which advocates for the freedom of expression and such since 1999. Be careful, however, because the actual VPN service is provided by third-parties.

Download Bitmask


Evading Censorship with Self-hosted VPNs
Difficulty:

You may want to run your own VPN service to have more control over security, logging and long retention practices.

  • How To Set Up an OpenVPN Server on Ubuntu 16.04 — DigitalOcean
  • IPSEC VPN on Ubuntu 16.04 with StrongSwan
  • trailofbits/algo — 1-click IPSEC VPN in the Cloud. A set of Ansible scripts that simplifies the setup of a personal IPSEC VPN
  • jlund/streisand — Streisand sets up a new server running L2TP/IPsec, OpenConnect, OpenSSH, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, sslh, Stunnel, and a Tor bridge
  • philpl/setup-strong-strongswan — A script that installs and configures a StrongSwan VPN Server on Ubuntu and Debian
  • SoftEther — SoftEther VPN is an open-source server application which supports SSL-VPN, OpenVPN, L2TP, EtherIP, L2TPv3 and IPsec - all in a single VPN software
  • Glype — A web-based proxy script is hosted on a website running in the cloud. Glype provides a proxy service to users via a web browser. It does not require any special software to be configured on the client-side to access blocked websites.
  • Searx — A free internet metasearch engine which aggregates results from more than 70 search services. You can get started with searx by using the Australia based instance on searx.com.au or one of the public instances . If you don’t trust anyone, you can set up your own service .

Non-recommended Services

Hola

Free VPN service that allows you to browse the web without censorship or access Netflix from a different contry

Unfortunately, Hola sends the traffic of strangers through your Internet connection. They sell this access to third parties, and don't care what it is used for.

Read more on adios-hola.org

Hide My Ass!

A popular VPN provider that kept connection logs and helped the arrests of Internet criminals hacking Sony Pictures in 2011. Read more on The Register about the controversy

proxy.sh

This provider sniffed traffic to catch an alleged hacker. Read more on TorrentFreak about the case

Torrent mirror sites

Mirror sites of The Pirate Bay allow the general public to access the blocked content on a different URL

However, many of these 'volunteers' have been caught red handed tampering with the original content. They inject malware and false advertisements to the traffic that could harm the visotors' computer. Read more on TorrentFreak about it