Times are complicated in Venezuela right now. Citizens are protesting the government in response torising inflationand increased criminal violence (such as the high-profile murder of Monica Spear, former Miss Venezuela). Meanwhile, theVenezuelan government has taken to censoring parts of the Internet, blocking Twitter images in an attempt to make the protests seem less widespread.
“The government blocks everything it considers affecting its reputation, without administrative process or rules,” Jorge Salazar Lamas told us via email. He’s a 38-year-old financial analyst who lives in Caracas. “Here you can see a list of sites blocked, but there is no transparency to the process. We can imagine that there is much more of the Web that we cannot access from Venezuela.”
Enter a company called AnchorFree, which makes a product called Hotspot Shield. This is a VPN service, short for “virtual private network.” When browsing the Web through Hotspot Shield, your traffic is rerouted through AnchorFree’s servers first, before they deliver it directly to you. You might use a service like this for a number of reasons, but many people use it to protect themselves from malware and to mask their geographic locations.
Because Hotspot Shield successfully curbs Internet censorship in Venezuela, the company decided to make the premium version of its iOS app free for those affected by it.
“AnchorFree’s mission is to provide freedom to access all of the world’s information for every person on the planet,” said company CEO David Gorodyansky. “We made our premium Hotspot Shield [app] for the iPhone free for users in Venezuela to be able to get to Twitter and other Internet services without any censorship. We continue to be committed to provide secure access to the world’s information for 7 billion people.”
Hotspot Shield boasts 200 million users worldwide and is finding an especially grateful user base in Venezuela right now. Jorge Lamas is one of many people helping get the word out on how to get around the censorship: “Venezuelan penetration of Twitter is very big, one of the highest in the world [so we] spread the information [on Hotspot Shield] using social networks … We are very grateful to [AnchorFree].”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.