Spain is a democratic country with a high percentage of computer users and good internet availability. However, recent events in Spain have raised concerns about restrictions and censorship of online material. This began in 2013, when the government proposed a security law that came to be known as the “gag law” that allowed Spanish police to hand out fines to citizens who interfered with their job or criticised authority. This law has been applied online as well as in real life, and Spanish people have been sentenced for comments made on social media.
In 2017, when there was a popular movement demanding a referendum on the question of Catalan independence, the government began blocking access to websites. Sites that promoted the Catalan independence referendum like referendum.cat or gateway.ipfs.io were blocked by order of a judge, although this has since been found to be against the Spanish constitution. In December 2017, the blocks were lifted and the government focused on trying to take the sites down instead of blocking access to them.
This incident has raised many red flags about internet freedoms in Spain and has led to many citizens taking a more active interest in internet rights. The Internet Freedom Festival will be held this year in Valencia and will bring together people from all over the country who seek to fight against internet censorship. One of the best ways that people have found to get around government blocks on websites and to browse the internet freely is to use a VPN. In this article we’ll talk about why and how to use a VPN, then share our recommendations for the best VPN for Spain.
How Website Blocks Work
During a time of political unrest, such as during the Catalan independence referendum movement, the government may decide to prevent access to information by blocking particular websites. They draw up a list of websites which are against the government’s policies or which are critical of the government, and they get court approval for these sites to be blocked. Then the government sends the list of sites to be blocked to all of the internet service providers in the country and instructs them that they must prevent users from accessing these sites. Typically, an ISP will set it up so that when a user types the URL of a blocked site into their browser, they are directed to either a blank page or a page saying that the site has been blocked.
On virtually any internet connection within the country, users won’t be able to access the sites that the government has deemed unsuitable. This essentially stifles the ability of the public to read up and make their own decisions about contentious political issues. For this reason, it is important for people who value freedom of information and who work against censorship to be able to access blocked sites – whether they happen to agree with the content on those sites or not. In the case of Spain, whatever your opinion about the issue of Catalan independence and whether there should be a referendum on the topic, it’s clear that preventing people from accessing information about the issue is morally wrong.
If you want to be able to access the internet freely, including accessing blocked websites, then you need a VPN. This software allows you to get around website blocks by routing your internet traffic through another country where the sites are not blocked. Even if the government tries to stifle information or prevent people from accessing a site, you can still gain access and make up your own mind about the issue in question.
Use A VPN To Get Around Blocks And Improve Your Security
A VPN works by encrypting all of the data that your device sends over the internet, then routing that data via a server in another country where it is decrypted. Because the server is in another country, it appears to websites as if you are browsing from that location, not your actual location. Thanks to encryption, your ISP cannot see what sites you are visiting either, and so do not have the opportunity to block you.
As well as letting you access blocked web content, a VPN also improves your security by keeping you safe from hackers. It protects your privacy by preventing your ISP or the government from spying on your online activities, including the sites that you visit and the messages that you send. If you download files, then a VPN will prevent your ISP from seeing your downloads and sending your information off to law enforcement. Overall, a VPN will keep you safe and secure while letting you access content from anywhere in the world.
Our Recommended VPN Providers For Spain
First off, we strongly advise you to avoid free VPNs as they have poor security and privacy policies and can actually make you less safe. It’s worth paying a small amount for a paid VPN subscription service that has great features and strong security.
In looking for a VPN to recommend, we take into mind the following factors:
- Excellent security policies such as the use of strong 256-bit encryption so no one can access your data
- A no logging policy to be sure that your VPN provider won’t record any information about what you are doing online
- A large server network so that you can access content from all over the world and so that you have plenty of flexibility to get around website blocks
- Fast connection speeds so that using your VPN doesn’t slow you down or introduce lag or buffering issues when you are watching high definition videos or playing games online
- Ease to use software that also supports multiple operating systems so that you can install it on all of your devices
When we looked at all of these factors, we came up with the following recommendations for a VPN for Spain:
ExpressVPN is a massively popular VPN that you’ve probably seen recommended on all sorts of best VPN lists. That’s because they offer a great combination of high security, fast connections, and easy to use software. Key security features include the use of strong 256-bit encryption to prevent anyone from cracking your data, a no-logging policy to protect your privacy, DNS leak protection, a kill switch so you don’t inadvertently send data over an unsecured connection, and an IP address checker so you can double check that your VPN is working and active.
The large network of servers totals more than 1500 servers in 94 different countries, and the connections to these servers are speedy and stable. The software is easy to use with a friendly user interface which even newbies will have no problem interacting with, and it is available for devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, plus some games consoles and smart TVs. There are also handy browser extensions available for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari browsers.
Read our full ExpressVPN review here.
IPVanish is a VPN that we recommend for users who want the best possible speed of connections. As well as fast servers, this service has great security with strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. There are more security options in the software too, like a kill switch, DNS leak protection, periodic IP address change, and DNS configuration. This makes the service great for advanced users who want both customisability and speed for downloading or streaming large files.
The number of servers available is large, with a network that covers more than 1000 servers in 60 countries, and the software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android.
Read our full IPVanish review here.
NordVPN is a top VPN for advanced users who want plenty of options and access to speciality servers. The regular VPN servers offer 256-bit encryption, no user logs, and lightning-fast connections. But the real selling point is the specialist servers with particular functions like the P2P servers (which are optimised for the use of torrents and other P2P downloads), double VPN servers (which encrypt your data two times over), anti DDoS (to protect you from DDoS attacks), or onion over VPN for TOR users.
There are tons of servers available – more than 3500 in 60 different countries, and the software can be installed on devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, or Windows Phone.
Read our full NordVPN review here.
CyberGhost is the ideal VPN for those who are new to the world of internet security and are looking for an easy-to-use service. You just have to choose which kind of connection you want (for example, whether you want to surf anonymously, access blocked sites, or use torrents) and then click the corresponding icon in the software. CyberGhost will then connect you to the right server and set up all of your options for you automatically.
The security offered is solid, including 256-bit encryption and a no-logging policy. The number of servers available is large, with 1300 servers in nearly 60 countries, and the connections are fast. Additionally, CyberGhost will automatically tweak settings like the kill switch to work if you choose an option that needs it (such as torrenting anonymously). Overall, this is a no-hassle way of managing your VPN even if you haven’t used one before. Available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OS.
Read our full CyberGhost review here.
PureVPN has fast connections, strong security with the option for 256-bit encryption, and good privacy with a no content logging policy. There are also plenty of available servers (over 750 servers in 140 different countries). In addition to this VPN service, with a PureVPN subscription you’ll get access to other security features like anti malware and anti virus protection to keep your device safe, and an anti spam filter to keep your email inbox clean. Plus there are options for DDoS protection, app filtering, a kill switch, a dedicated IP address, and a NAT firewall.
The software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Android TV devices, plus there are browser extensions available for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Recent events in Spain have lead to the government blocking a number of websites which supported the Catalan independence referendum. This has made people more aware of the issue of internet censorship and website blocks, and many of these people have been seeking a solution to get around blocks and to use the internet freely. For these people, we suggest using a VPN to get around blocks as well as improving your security and protecting your privacy.
We’ve suggested a range of VPN providers that are safe and trustworthy and can be used to access blocked content within Spain. Have you tried any of these VPN providers yourself? What was your experience with them like? Tell us about it in the comments below.