Even in democratic states, political activism can be a dangerous affair. Activists have the goal to bring about political change, and change always has losers. In this case, those would-be losers often happen to be powerful people, who have methods of protecting themselves - ranging from character assassination to, well, assassination.
The advent of the internet to the mainstream has opened up political activism to a wide berth of new promotion channels as well as dangers. Yet your anonymity on the web is rarely guaranteed.
You can solve most of these problems with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). We’ll take you through some of the ways you might be under threat and how a VPN can make life easier for you from a security standpoint.
How VPNs help political activists
Nowadays, it is not necessary for you to go out in the street in order to get your voice heard. Political activists range all across the political spectrum from the far right to moderates to the far left. All of these activists run into the same problem when they go online: the question of online anonymity.
Websites such as Twitter as well as many different public forums (e.g., Reddit) have made it possible for people with similar viewpoints to gather and share their beliefs. On top of that, social media can also act as a platform for change as people share their opinions with one another and form a consensus through discourse.
More importantly, the internet is a great tool for political mobilization - chatrooms and forums, messaging apps and image boards are where much of the planning for demonstrations, protests and other actions is done.
The issue is that your IP address can give you away, and so can your traffic. A VPN protects your confidentiality. There are a few ways how this is achieved, and we will go through them, also recommending a few tools in particular.
Protecting your identity
At its essence, what a VPN does is route your traffic through a remote server. This means two things:
- The server you’re contacting (a forum, for example) can’t see your real IP address. Instead, it sees the VPN server’s IP address
- Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) doesn’t know what you’re actually doing online. They can only see you connecting to a VPN server
Thus, by using a VPN you’re protecting yourself from government surveillance, as well as ensuring that no online service you’re using actually knows who or where you are.
Safeguarding your plans
Not all activists wish to just sit behind their desks and say everything while doing nothing. There are still thousands of people who are willing to go to the streets and protest for what they believe in. What greatly helps you in the modern day is the ability to be able to plan and coordinate your activities with each other from the comfort and safety of your home.
Many different activist groups who have similar beliefs and aims work together to stage large processions to get maximum attention for their cause. For this reason, their online anonymity is under threat as it is beneficial for the police to be able to predict the movements of such activists and have security measures in place.
Let’s put it this way: if everyone in your movement was using a VPN, it would be much more difficult to prevent political actions from happening.
Political activism is more effective the more oppressive the regime. Political activism is found most prominently in countries where totalitarian governments reign. Many of these countries such as China often censor the internet by blocking sites that do not align with their views.
Effective political activity requires information and access to various online resources. VPNs are some of the most effective tools to bypass censorship measures.
Best VPNs for political activists
Now that you know all of the advantages of a VPN, here are a few of the best ones on the market today:
The most secure VPN service on the market is NordVPN. It has great features, including super-strong encryption, leak protection, and a huge list of servers spread out across 60+ countries.
NordVPN also offers you a lot of customization options and the ability to be able to use the VPN from a plethora of different devices is a blessing. For more features, see our NordVPN review. If NordVPN is not a viable option for you, take a look at CyberGhost.
CyberGhost is a worthy alternative to NordVPN as it offers you similar features and the price is a bit lower. However, the main advantage of CyberGhost over the competition is that the apps are very easy to use.
CyberGhost also has a lot of entertainment capabilities, being able to seamlessly stream Netflix and download torrents. All of your data is encrypted with AES-256 encryption with CyberGhost. Lastly, you also have access to router applications to protect your entire network as opposed to a single device.
Private Internet Access (PIA)
PIA is a great choice for users located around America and Europe - that’s where most of the network is situated. This VPN offers most of the same features as others on this list, but it’s weaker in Asian countries and countries with heavy censorship.