Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

How to bypass Internet censorship in Egypt: A followup on the demonstrations

Under: Egypt Tags: . .

January 25th will be remembered throughout history as the day of irony; the National Police holiday eventually had the entire security forces roaming the streets from all parts of Egypt in an attempt to control an overwhelming turnout for anti-corruption demonstrations. While the protesters were mobilizing and collaborating together, the Egyptian authorities resolved to desperate attempts in order to hinder the communication.

Tahrir st. on the way to downtown

Tahrir st. on the way to downtown

Over the span of a few hours, websites like Bambuser, twitter and Al Dostor newspaper (amongst others) have all become inaccessible after an old-fashioned ‘pulling of the plug’ by the genius personnel of the Egyptian authorities. It is not clear how long the censorship will go on for, but in all cases, the following are the different ways in which you can bypass censorship and access any website you want:

  1. Use a proxy website, such as hidemyass.com or any of the websites listed here
    Advantages: Very easy, just go to the website, and use the provided bar to visit any website. No installation required, and it’s free
    Disadvantages:  You’re left with an annoying header that occupies a large portion of the screen, and it’s certainly not ideal for long term. It’s better used as a quick temporary fix
  2. Use the browser Opera with its Opera Turbo option (available by clicking the small clock symbol at the bottom). It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux
    Advantages: Opera is a cool browser anyway, and it’s free of course. Enabling the option is cake, and you don’t need to worry about banners or anything getting in the way – just browse normally
    Disadvantages: The Opera Turbo option compresses and caches all websites, so any image you come across will be at a noticeably lower quality than the original (that’s how they can speed up the page loading)
  3. Use a free proxy software that you install and run, after which you’re free to browse any website normally. You can use Hotspot Sheild, or any of the ones listed here
    Advantages: After you install, you can have it run automatically, or just click ‘connect’ before getting started, and then any browser activity is made anonymously. It’s free
    Disadvantages: You’ll have to put up with some banner ads here and there (that’s how they can make money to support the servers that you’re going through)
  4. Use a professional VPN service, such as USAIP, that not only bypasses censorship here, but also makes websites believe you’re in another country (with a handful of choices)
    Advantages: Available for all operating systems, and smart phones as well. Very simple to set up, and all you need to do is connect before starting any internet activity (not only websites, but any app you have accessing the internet). You can choose from many locations within the United State and Europe (which allows you to use websites like Hulu and BBC iPlayer)
    Disadvantages: Costs $8 monthly

I personally recommend using Opera because it’s easy and straight-forward. This should work as a temporary solution until we see the final outcome with the Egyptian authorities’ censorship stance. In the case of the prolonged continuation of web censorship, investing in a proper VPN would certainly be worthwhile. I’ve had a USAIP account anyway, so that’s what I’ve been using today.

It’s ironic that the Egyptian government declared January 25th an official holiday to commemorate the Egyptian police forces, because it’s probably the most stressful day of the year for them. But I think that it’s even more ironic that they censored the web thinking that they would be able to control us better, when it is precisely that move that will make us take advantage of the internet to its fullest extent, and work together to bring down this corrupt regime.

The beauty of the web is that it is by us, and for us, and there’s nothing that Mubarak’s family can do about it.

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13 comments

Nevsh

January 26, 2011

Nice ya teeeetttttassss!

Wally

January 26, 2011

Also there’s a program called Free Hide IP that helps masking your IP with one from USA. It’s free and no banner on the screen. The only disadvantage is that makes pc a little slower. But that’s only a minor annoying thing.

http://www.free-hideip.com/

Hatem

January 26, 2011

NICE Shalabex.
We need this information to be out there for everyone

taha

January 26, 2011

this is another way to access twitter, facebook and protect our anonymity- something we should all look into:

https://www.torproject.org/

taha

January 26, 2011

I’m using Opera in turbo mode on my ubuntu machine and it’s working super great! thanks ya shibbles!

SUDANY

January 26, 2011

YAKHI BIG UP MAN, YOUVE BEEN MORE THAN HELP.

AKHOOK SUDANY.

Tarek Shalaby

January 26, 2011

@Nevsh: Nayyes ya nooooooooooooooviiii, nayes

@Wally: Thanks for the site, seems like a good alternative to hidemyass.com, but I haven’t had the chance to try it out myself yet.

@Hatem: Thanks, man. I hope anyone who needs this info can make use of it so that the government fails completely in censorship OUR information.

@taha: I’m glad Opera worked for you, it doesn’t work so smoothly for everyone, but I guess it’s a problem with the internet connection itself, not the browser.

@Sudany: 7abibi ya sudany! haha. Glad I could be of help, we look work to the support of the Sudanese people as we topple out dictator, and then work with you guys to get rid of yours!

Tina

January 27, 2011

Thanks for the great post Tarek. I already tried Hotspot Shield. It’s really awesome and free too! Here’s the website brothers Egyptians: https://hsspre.com or email: win@afshield.com

Daniela

February 1, 2011

SALUDOS DESDE ARGENTINA. TAREK GRACIAS POR LAS CRONICAS DIARIAS. MUCHA SUERTE COMPAÑEROS

Charls

February 3, 2011

Using a VPN to protect your privacy and give you unlimited access to every page. Internet Censorship was yesterday. This might be the only solution against internet censorship.
I want to let you know that there is currently running a Free Give Away of Premium VPN Accounts from several providers on this page: http://www.Leechermods.com/search?q=vpn
Chances are high to catch an account for free for everyone.

Jose

February 5, 2011

Hi, Tarek. I’ve read about you in the Spanish newspaper Publico.
I just wonder how it is that Egypt authorities banned IPs and not just unplug all tcp/ip traffic over Egypt networks; i.e. allowing you to reach the proxies (you can even use translate.google.com as a free html text proxy).
Take care!

Sarah S

February 15, 2011

this is my first visit and just wanted to stop by to say hello all!

Dana

January 10, 2012

I used this last time I was in Cairo:
http://www.sunvpn.com/

Works much better than the average proxy service..

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