The number of people using the internet in Nigeria has increased rapidly since 2005, from 5 million users to well over 67 million people recently. Nigeria’s constitution provides protection for freedom of speech, including freedom of the press for journalists. In actuality, though, it seems that the government does interfere or restrict these rights.
Militant groups in Nigeria have threatened media outlets and journalists, even killing members of the press. Because of this inherent risk, most journalists practice self-censorship instead of publicly criticizing the group or the Nigerian government’s seeming inability to stop the group. Reporting about political corruption is severely limited, too. In the last decade, several journalists have been arrested and charged for publishing information that criticizes the government. International watchdog Reporters Without Borders places Nigeria at 116th place out of all the countries in the world, in their 2016 World Press Freedom Index.
Beyond self-censorship, most people living in Nigeria are accessing the internet in public locales like cafes and schools. Using WiFi without reinforced protection is always an open invitation for cyber threats from hackers who are looking to obtain personal information easily. Further, because of the country’s corruption and place as a stronghold for militant groups, many websites may block their content from reaching users in the country.
Because many journalists, and indeed civilians and laypeople, may self-censor their thoughts or criticisms of local government in various media outlets, it’s vital for them to have a way to share unfiltered information with the world. The best way to do this is via the internet – though they must be careful.
Using software called a VPN, or virtual private network, is the best way to encrypt data. By encrypting data, the government isn’t able to tell where information came from because it’s much harder to trace.
VPNs work by changing the assigned IP address of a user. IP addresses indicate what country a user is currently in. Using a VPN, however, users are able to appear online as if they’re from another country. This allows internet users to access content that is otherwise blocked.
Using VPN software is the most reliable way to access blocked content and share information with people outside of Nigeria. More than 650 million people around the world use Hotspot Shield.
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