Australia might be a country with a reputation for a laid back, relaxed national attitude – but its internet censorship policies are anything but relaxed. In fact, Australia has recently introduced some extremely strict restrictions on internet use, and it’s only getting worse. A report from the advocacy group Freedom House recently stated that internet freedom in Australia had declined every year for the last six years, and the infamous Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill of 2015 had lead to the blocking of a huge number of sites which have been judged (sometimes fairly, sometimes not) to facilitate copyright infringement.
Many websites are filtered or blocked in Australia, and the government has an extensive internet surveillance program. Despite the fact that internet access in Australia is generally both fast and affordable, these draconian restrictions make using the internet less than free.
The best way for users to get around internet restrictions so they can use the internet as it was meant to be is to get a VPN. Below we’ll talk about how a VPN can help circumvent restrictions, and then we’ll list our picks for the best VPNs for Australia.
How To Get Around Internet Restrictions in Australia
So how does internet restriction work? In Australia, there are a number of laws which effect what is allowed to be accessed from the internet. The Broadcasting Services Act of 1992, for example, effectively bans the hosting of certain content which has been deemed ‘prohibited’. This can include horror movies which are deemed too gory, sexual content including pornography, and computer games which are judged to be too violent for the public.
While most nations have some prohibitions on extremely violent or graphic content, the restrictions in Australia are far harsher than in other similar countries. Many popular games and movies are available only in a highly edited censored format – for example, a game might have to have all of the blood spatter effects removed before it can be distributed in Australia. Many Australians find these restrictions to be patronising and unnecessary, as they feel that it is up to adults to choose whether or not they want to view this kind of content.
Regain Your Freedom With A VPN
So what do you do if you’re an Australian internet user who wants to visit a website, play a game, or watch a film which has been blocked?
The answer is to use a VPN. Here’s how it works: first you install a small piece of software onto whatever device you’re using to access the internet – it could be your phone, your tablet, or your computer. This VPN software then encrypts all of the data that your device sends over the internet. This encrypted data is sent to a server owned by your VPN provider in the location of your choice. When the encrypted data reaches the server, it is decrypted and then sent on to its original destination.
The useful part of this is that the data only re-enters the visible internet at point of the server which you’re connected to. So if you connect to a server in the US and then go to a website, that website will see your traffic as coming from the US and serve you the US version of the site.
What all this means is that you can be sat in Australia but connected to a server in the US (or in any other country). When you access the internet, you’ll see websites as if you were browsing the internet from the US, including accessing sites which are unavailable in Australia. So you can get around restrictions and access blocked websites or watch restricted content.
Other Advantages Of Using A VPN
A VPN is useful for more than just accessing blocked content, however. There are a number of other advantages which users in Australia should consider:
Get around region locks. Another use of connecting to a server outside of Australia is the ability to access different regional content. Lots of sites like Hulu or Netflix should you different available content depending on where you are accessing the site from. Other sites, like BBC iPlayer, are not available for Australians to use at all. But with a VPN you can make it appear as if you are accessing these sites from any country you want, meaning that you watch watch US-only content on Netflix of connect to the UK and watch everything on BBC iPlayer.
Prevent anyone from observing your internet activity. It’s worryingly easy for the government to spy on your internet use and any communications you send online, like emails or instant messages. If you want to stop the government from snooping into your electronic life, using a VPN will protect your privacy by encrypting all of your data. This makes it extremely difficult for any outside observer to track or record your data.
Download in safety. If you want to download copyrighted content like movies or music off the internet then you need to protect yourself. Especially if you use peer to peer downloads like torrents, it’s very easy for your ISP to see what you’re doing and to track your downloads. Because of the harsh copyright laws in Australia, you can be prosecuted for even minor copyright violations. A VPN can help to make sure that you’re not caught downloading by encrypting all of your traffic, including your downloads.
Bolster your security. Everyone loves free public wifi – whether it’s at a cafe, or in a public location like a library. But you need to be careful when using such networks, as it is possible for other users on the network to hack your device and steal your data. They could get access to your personal information like your emails, your credit card details, or your bank account information. To stop this from happening, using a VPN will protect you with encryption when you use these public wifi networks.
Choose A Reputable VPN Provider
Now you’ve seen all the advantages that a VPN can bring you as an internet user, the next task is to find the right VPN provider for your needs. But with so many options available, it can be tough to know which will be right for you. To help with this decision, we’ve put together a list of the best VPNs for users in Australia. We assessed these providers on the following criteria:
Servers in many different countries, so that you can easily get around blocks and restrictions, and so that you can access content from different countries.
Strong security to keep you safe, including strong encryption and a no logging policy to ensure that your data will never be passed on to another company or to the government.
Fast connections, so that using your VPN doesn’t slow down your internet browsing experience.
Easy to use software, with support for plenty of different platforms so that you can protect all of your devices using just one VPN account.
Here are our top recommended VPNs based on these factors:
When you’re looking for the highest possible quality VPN experience, ExpressVPN is the company to look to. The are a favourite among serious internet users thanks to their fast connections, good security, and rock solid reliability. The offer a massive server network of more than 1000 servers in 145 locations in 94 different countries, so it’s perfect for getting around blocks or restrictions on internet content.
In addition to this, the strong 256-bit AES encryption will ensure that your data is not visible to outsiders, and the no logging policy will protect your privacy. The easy to use software supports many different platforms including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, and it includes useful extra features like a kill switch and a speed test to help you find the fastest server to connect to.
If your biggest worry is that you don’t want a VPN which will slow you down, then we recommend you try IPVanish. This company is known for its lightning fast connections which let you stream high definition video and browse with no lag time.
The security offered is strong enough to keep you safe, including 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. The server network of 850 servers in more than 60 countries is not as large as some other, but it’s still plenty large enough for you to get around restrictions. You can install the software on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, or Android.
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When your number one priority is security, then you should look into NordVPN. This company has exceptionally strong security, with the 256-bit encryption and no logging that you’d expect. But they offer more than this: they have a special double VPN service. This means that your data is encrypted on your machine and then sent to a server, where it is encrypted again and sent on to another server before it is decrypted and sent back on its way. This second layer of encryption provides the ultimate in security, which is important for those who want to stop government snooping.
The server network available is generous, with over 1070 servers in 60 different countries so you can hop around restrictions with no problems. The software supports a wide range of platforms including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows Phone, so you can protect all of your devices at once.
Get a huge 72% discount on the two year special of NordVPN, for a total cost of just $3.29 per month, with a 30 day money-back guarantee.
Lots of Australians travel, either for fun or for business, and many go to China each year. If this includes you, then you should look into using VyprVPN. As well as the strong encryption that we expect, VyprVPN has a special feature that lets you use the service even on networks with anti-VPN settings.
In China, it’s typical for the government to restrict internet access and to discourage the use of VPNs through VPN-detection methods which won’t let you pass encrypted data over the internet. This makes it a problem for anyone who wants to access sites which are blocked by the Great Firewall. VyprVPN uses their special Chameleon protocol to encrypt not only the data itself, but also the metadata such as the origin and destination of the data. This means that it’s very hard for any network to tell whether you’re using a VPN, so you can use the service even where VPN-detection exists.
This makes VyprVPN the ideal choice for users who travel frequently. The large server network covers more than 700 servers in 70 different counties, and you can install the software on Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android.
Take advantage of 50% off your first month with VyprVPN, in addition to a three day free trial.
Australians get kind of the short end of the stick when it comes to internet freedom. Despite the fact that internet access is fast and relatively affordable in the country, the restrictions on internet content are far more strict than in other comparable countries. From banned horror movies to censored computer games to blocked sites for streaming TV shows, Australian users experience a much more limited internet than people elsewhere in the developed world.
The good news is that there is a way around these restrictions. Using a VPN will help you to evade blocks by letting you access websites as if you were browsing from another location. In addition, a VPN will improve your cyber security and prevent the government from snooping into your communications or your internet use. Any of the four VPNs we have mentioned will be of great help to users in Australia who want to experience a more free internet.
Is there a favourite service that you like to use when browsing the internet in Australia? Do you use one of these VPNs, or is there another which you prefer? Tell us about it in the comments below.