2016 was an eventful year, with plenty of world events to be informed about. While access to the Internet and thus information around the world grew, censorship of all kinds including the blocking of websites also rose.
Here at Psiphon we have also seen more users of our software than ever before, and while this comes hand in hand with increasing information controls on the internet, we are happy to be able to help people get round them.
Freedom House's annual report on Internet Freedom noted a decline in said freedom for the sixth year running, and found that two-thirds of Internet users around the world live in countries where criticizing the government, military or monarchy results in censorship. Their other major observation was that governments are increasingly targeting messaging apps.
This chimes with some of the things we've seen on our network this year. For example in January VoIP services were blocked in Morocco, upsetting users of popular free calling services like Viber, Whatsapp, Skype and Facetime. For the month long duration of the ban, we saw our Moroccan traffic triple in the first week and then double each week after that. Then in May a Brazilian judge ordered the blocking of Whatsapp, not for the first time. Again we saw traffic from the country triple, this time in 24 hours.
National elections are another flashpoint for censorship, and we've seen people turn to Psiphon as their governments block social media or oppositions websites, for example in August in Gabon. Another trend we've seen this year is the shutting down altogether of the internet in some countries during turbulent events - something that even Psiphon can't do anything about.
Our hope is that in 2017 we can help people around the world to communicate and stay informed without restrictions. Happy New Year to all our friends and we wish you a safe, happy and free 2017!