In October 2017, an image went viral showing a set of subscription plans created by a mobile provider in Portugal. The grid showcased what the true loss of net neutrality could mean for a country, featuring everything from website upgrade packages to restricted streaming functionality and heavy data caps. Although Portugal is protected by the EU’s regulations preserving net neutrality, images like this show companies aren’t afraid to circumvent those laws to take away online freedoms. The best way to ensure your ‘net stays free is to use a good VPN at all times.
How to choose the best VPN for Portugal?
- Subscribe to one of the VPNs in this guide.
- Download and install the VPN’s client software.
- Connect to the VPN server of choice, no matter where you’re located.
- Now you can enjoy unrestricted access to any websites, be it in Portugal or worldwide.
- 1 Selecting the Best VPNs for Portugal
- 2 Benefits of Using a VPN
- 3 VPNs and Net Neutrality
- 4 The State of Internet Censorship in Portugal
- 5 Conclusion
Selecting the Best VPNs for Portugal
Virtual private networks operate on the simple principle of encryption and IP address obfuscation. When you run a VPN the data packets that leave your device are wrapped in an envelope of complex cryptography, the kind that no ISP, hacker, or government agency can break through. These packets are sent to your VPN’s servers where your own IP address is removed and replaced with one of theirs. All of this happens quietly in the background, too, making VPNs both easy and convenient to use.
Encryption brings a lot of benefits for the end user, including everything from breaking through censorship walls to accessing geo-restricted video streams and slipping past anti-neutrality blockades undetected. The subscription plans released by the company in Portugal could theoretically be rendered useless by the right VPN, for example.
Our VPN Selection Criteria
Choosing the right VPN for Portugal doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. We’ve simplified the process by selecting some of the fastest, most secure, and most reliable services on the market, perfect for protecting your data and restoring net neutrality in Portugal and around the world. Our choices were made using the criteria below.
- Lightweight software – Running a VPN means launching software that stays active while you’re online. If you’re using a mobile device or other low-powered platform, you need to make sure the VPN doesn’t put a drain on your resources.
- Fast download speeds – VPNs have a reputation for being slower than unsecured networks. If you want high quality video streams or fast downloads, you need to go with a VPN service that puts a huge priority on speed.
- Zero-logging policy – VPNs can log your activity just like a regular ISP. To ensure your data stays safe, the best VPNs have a strict zero-logging policy in place, promising that no sensitive data is ever stored on their servers.
- Unlimited bandwidth – Some low quality and free VPNs restrict how much bandwidth you can use. That doesn’t pair well with video streaming or heavy web browsing, which is why all of our selections offer unlimited downloads.
- Unmonitored web access – Want to download torrents? Files from P2P networks? Don’t let your VPN prevent you from doing that. Unmonitored traffic is the hallmark of a good VPN, which is why our recommendations allow all types of traffic.
ExpressVPN has a stellar reputation for being a fast, friendly, and easy to use VPN. The company’s software is second to none, perfectly designed for one-click use across a variety of devices, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones. All of ExpressVPN’s excellent privacy feature are available no matter where you connect from, too. 256-bit AES encryption keeps your data secure, a zero-logging policy ensures information stays private, and both kill switch and DNS leak protection features add extra privacy measures in case something goes wrong.
ExpressVPN’s servers cover over 140 locations with 1,500 servers in 94 different countries. This casts a wide net for IP addresses anywhere you like. There are even a number of locations within Portugal for the fastest possible access.
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Speed and security are always at the top of the list when anyone searches for a good VPN. IPVanish hits the perfect balance between those features without sacrificing usability. You’ll stay safe with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch on all devices, including smartphones. You’ll also take advantage of the company’s a zero-logging policy on traffic for top notch invisibility. Best of all, you won’t lose a bit of speed while keeping your data safe.
IPVanish operates a network of over 950 servers in 60 different countries, one of the largest in the industry. You’ll be able to grab an IP address from just about anywhere in the world, including the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Portugal!
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The best thing about NordVPN is its amazing network of servers. Most companies have a set number of nodes that changes maybe every few months. With NordVPN, you get new additions practically every day. At the time of writing NordVPN offers 2,418 servers in 56 countries, covering every continent except for Antarctica. These numbers mean you’ll always be able to find a fast connection, no matter where you live. There are even several server location within Portugal for snappy, low-lag downloads within the country.
Further keeping your data safe online, NordVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption for all connections, offers kill switch and DNS leak protection, and deploys one of the most thorough zero-logging policies in the industry. You’ll even have access to extra features like DDoS protection, onion over VPN routing, and double encryption!
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Need solid online security with your VPN? VyprVPN is the way to go. The company offers over 700 servers in 70 different countries, covering the bulk of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania with fast and reliable service. VyprVPN owns and operates this entire network, too, which means no third parties ever have access to your information. Top that off with over 200,000 IP addresses to choose from, 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch feature, and a zero-logging policy that covers traffic and DNS requests, and you’ve got the makings of an excellent, private VPN.
VyprVPN goes the extra mile with one of the best exclusive features on the market: Chameleon Technology. This protocol wraps the metadata of each packet in an extra layer of encryption, defeating deep packet inspection and bypassing censorship blocks with ease. Anyone can use Chameleon to stay safe around the world, even in areas where net neutrality is a thing of the past.
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Benefits of Using a VPN
VPNs have gone from tools used by paranoid journalists to everyday apps even casual internet explorers run in the background. Most of this has to do with the nature of the modern internet. Threats to net neutrality, prying eyes from government agencies, ISPs collecting and selling your information, all are direct threats to your privacy and online freedoms. By using a VPN, you gain back some of those features, and earn a little extra in the process.
Defeat Region Locked Content Restrictions
Have you ever gone to YouTube, Netflix, or another video streaming service to watch a movie only to see the content was blocked in your country? This is a growing problem in our modern global economy, as most studios refuse to embrace worldwide access for the majority of their releases. You don’t have to live by this restriction, however, not with the right VPN.
Running a VPN gives you the ability to choose a non-local IP address. Depending on which country you select, you can instantly watch video streams previously unavailable outside of your area. Want to watch the latest movies from the U.S.? Switch to a VPN server in the United States, reload the page, and you’re set!
Blocking websites based on location is used by a variety of governments around the world. Internet access in Portugal isn’t restricted on any level, as freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution. There are websites that will refuse access to certain regions based on IP address, however, and some sites like The Pirate Bay are blocked by ISPs in Portugal. In this situations you can simply choose a VPN server in the right country, reload the page, and browse at your leisure.
Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi
Public internet hotspots may seem like convenient tools for when you’re out and about, but the reality is many of them are targeted by malicious hackers. Logging into open Wi-Fi networks puts your data at risk to all kinds of third parties, including spying governments and shady ISP companies. With a VPN on your laptop or mobile device, though, your data gets encrypted before it touches the network, locking out prying eyes so they can’t steal your identity or your information.
Prevent Government Surveillance
Although the Portuguese government isn’t known to engage in heavy online surveillance, more and more agencies around the world have been discovered watching their citizens or trading data with other countries. If you travel or engage in sensitive online activities, you’ll want to take basic precautions to keep your data safe. Running a VPN encrypts all traffic to do just that, no matter who’s trying to watch you.
VPNs and Net Neutrality
The anonymity and encryption features offered by VPNs help mask your identity and provide basic data security. These work together to provide a ton of online privacy, but they can also help defeat the tiered data packages some companies are rolling out in Portugal and across the world.
How VPNs Defeat Tiered Internet Packages
An open internet means anyone can access any website at any time without throttling or censorship firewalls in place. This is a protected right in many countries, but an increasing number of ISPs are finding ways to work around it so they can charge more money. Portugal could be one of the first big victims of this mentality. Fortunately, VPNs offer one of the best solutions.
Tiered internet packages work by watching data packets leaving your device and comparing them to a list of allowed websites. If you try accessing YouTube, for example, but haven’t upgraded to a premium video streaming package, the ISP can simply deny you access based on packet information. VPNs encrypt packages before your ISP can see them. They can’t tell what you’re trying to access, which means they can’t block traffic based on tiered upgrade plans.
VPNs vs Internet Fast Lanes
Similar to the feature listed above, VPNs can help break internet fast lanes by masking your traffic from ISPs. If a company forces you to upgrade your plan to access content at a faster speed, you may be able to run a VPN to bypass those restrictions. This kind of workaround is easier to prevent than other anti-censorship measures, unfortunately, but in many cases a good VPN can even the playing field without even trying.
The State of Internet Censorship in Portugal
Net neutrality is under threat in countries around the world. People living in Cuba and Iran have very few online freedoms, for example, and other governments are taking notice. The net neutrality repeal in the United States has a lot of people around the world questioning what their country will do next. Could Portugal be the next to lose net neutrality?
As of 2017, the Portuguese government has a very hands-off approach to how its citizens access the internet. The constitution protects free speech, allowing bloggers and journalists to speak their mind without fear of recrimination. Laws prevent denigrating ethnic or religious minorities through practices such as Holocaust denial, and the government is forbidden to arbitrarily interfere with privacy issues between families or in the home. These ensure a great amount of online freedom in Portugal, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Blocked Sites in Portugal
In March 2015 Portuguese ISPs were ordered by the courts to block popular torrenting site The Pirate Bay along with many of its proxies. This was the first time a website was blocked in Portugal. Months later the Ministry of Culture announced a resolution to further block websites that violate copyrights or promote illegal gambling. The list of sites has grown to include over 1,000 blocked resources, most of which can be easily accessed with a VPN.
EU Net Neutrality Protection
A regulation passed by the European Union in 2015 sets a basic framework for all member nations, including Portugal, that protects the fundamental right to unrestricted, neutral access to the internet. The text has since been criticized as offering too many loopholes companies can use to block content or charge for better access, such as the one exploited by the Portuguese service provider. Individual nations are allowed to further strengthen their net neutrality laws, which places like the Netherlands and Estonia have already done. By default, though, any member of the EU will have fundamental net neutrality rights.
Internet access in Portugal has been some of the most open and unrestricted in the world. As the late 2017 tiered package grid shows, though, companies are eager to bend those rules in the name of higher profits. This puts everyone’s internet access at risk. To keep your connection as open and free as possible, using a good VPN is always a smart move, whether you’re in Portugal, the United States, or anywhere else in the world.