Starting a blog with a question is not a good practice. But here, I will go against the normal rules. Here, I am going to ask you a question.
Do you think that the United States leads the list of internet users who use virtual private network (VPN) connections? You might think Yes! But that’s not true. Surprised? Well, you should not be.
According to a research study, conducted by GlobalWebIndex, a London-based research firm, Indonesia leads the list of countries with the highest percentage of internet users (41%), relying on a VPN connection. The sample size of the survey consisted of 200,000 internet users from 34 countries.
Well, it’s quite interesting to note that Indonesia tops this list, ahead of the European countries like the United Kingdom (16%) and the Netherlands (14%). Surprisingly only 29% of Chinese internet users are using a VPN. The United States also has a percentage usage well below the global average of 25%.
Asian countries including Thailand (39%), Vietnam (35%), India (33%), Taiwan (33%), Malaysia (32%), China (29%) and Hong Kong (29%) etc. also have relatively higher percentage of internet users, who tend to use VPN connections. China and Vietnam are known to have notorious VPN restrictions in place. Websites like Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube are not available in these countries. The government in Vietnam is also critical about anti-government news websites and blogs. Singapore on the other hand, is mulling to restrict access to the Pirate Bay (TPB), one of the most famous torrent file sharing websites.
Historically Indonesia has been very liberal when it comes to internet usage. The stance of the government has changed only after some high profile censorship cases emerged recently. Apparently, internet users in Indonesia do not have any alternatives, therefore, they are inclined to use VPNs to access social media and news websites.
“People consider VPNs to be a niche tool, but they are surprisingly widespread. As many as one in four people use them,” said Jason Mander, Head of trends at GlobalWebIndex. “In Western Europe, privacy is the biggest factor. But by far the most popular one globally is the need to access [geographically blocked] entertainment content“, he said.
In the Western countries people tend to use VPNs to protect their online activities or accessing entertainment websites. While there are some internet users who favor privacy and security being provided by the VPN services, but there are others, who do circumvent ISP-related restrictions to access the web content that is not available in certain countries.
By looking at the results of the study, for Asian countries, one can easily conclude that a high percentage of internet users use VPNs to access websites that don’t fit well with the higher authorities.
Despite the fact that VPN providers, ISPs are under the surveillance radar, VPNs are here to stay. The number of VPN users is going to increase in the coming years.
* This news was originally published on TechinAsia