The unique internet experience for 3 people from China, Iceland, and Papua New Guinea.
The FortKnoxster app will always be the sum of our efforts in building the world’s most private and secure communications tool, free for anyone to use.
Why do we do it? Throughout the articles we’ve written in our privacy blog, we do our best to explain “why” we do things. In many of our past articles, we try to approach privacy and security topics by looking at the many things we do in our daily lives, which we take for granted.
We’ve talked about subjects that many people aren’t aware are happening behind the scenes while they are shopping online, browsing the web, using emails or texting on apps. Things that affect your privacy and your security in ways that aren’t immediately obvious.
We believe it is important for everyone to be in control of their data and, at the same time, be in control of their access to that data. In talking about privacy and the importance for everyone to be in control of their data, we believe is also important that we talk about control of access to that data.
In this blog post, explore how different levels of control of access can lead to vastly different perceptions of the internet, through the lens of three individuals from three countries with respective levels of internet access.
Hala Bashi, 30. Location: Xinjiang, China
I live in one of China’s so-called “smart cities”, so we are no strangers to technology. Since the mid-2000s, I’ve been running a small online shop that has grown to be one of the most popular local e-commerce sites in my region. I won many young entrepreneur awards from the local government and was among the first to pioneer many internet technologies to livestream my product reviews, allow people to pay directly from their phone, and let people create custom products delivered to them, everything is done online.
But until recently, I had no idea that the world outside China sees a different Internet from me! It started about two years ago. I hosted some online friends from Europe who were interested in crypto transactions for e-commerce and they came to visit me. Then they found out about my birthday and told me: “Wow you were born on the same day as the Tiananmen Square protests!”
And that was the first time in my life I had ever heard of one of the most important events in China.
In the next few hours, I learned that my friends use Google to search for things online, while I use Baidu (everyone in China uses Weibao because the government’s firewall blocks Google!). Then, I discovered that my internet blocks all searches relating to Tiananmen Square… and hundreds of other events.
After teaching me how to use VPNs, I know now I can bypass firewalls and internet censorship in China to see so much of the internet that was previously hidden to me.
My friends ask me if I still use Baidu and still surf the “Chinese version of the internet” and my answer is yes, I do. That’s because my friends search in English and they only see Western sites… but there is so much going on on the Chinese internet. I wish Google would index more of our sites too!
Sigrún Dottir, 27. Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
When the Freedom House report on Freedom on the Net ranked my country the highest in Internet Freedom, I wasn’t surprised at all.
Broadband Internet came to my country very early. My parents experienced it for free in the unis in the 1990s so I never got to experience dialup modems that I hear about in stories my grandparents tell!
It’s almost hard not censored here either. You can basically find anything you want online and the government and even my parents leave it to us as individuals to sort out what’s good and what’s bad. Even from a young age, I was allowed to read about every single bit of history, from both sides of the story.
Every piece of information is available, with no restrictions. This is both a good and bad thing.
When there is a political scandal, everything is freely available, nothing is hidden and we are all allowed to see every different opinion. This is transparency and freedom of choice.
But at the same time, I believe there are some things that we should shield ourselves from. I remember when our neighbors in Norway had the shootings in 2011, where 77 people, mostly children lost their lives. All my friends went online and looked for videos and pictures, and shared them. I wished they did not because I still have bad memories from them.
And looking back, it was easy then for the perpetrators to find things online. Where to buy guns. How to make explosives. How to plan the attack.
I believe in personal freedoms and I can appreciate internet freedom in Iceland. But sometimes, I do wonder. What is the price of freedom?
Ruai Apai, 47. Location: East Sepik, Papua New Guinea
I have to admit, I don’t know much about the Internet! I teach in a small government school with limited resources and technology.
To reach us from the nearest town, you need to travel 3 hours by boat along crocodile-infested rivers. In our small area, we also don’t have mobile signals but we can catch a good signal for calls and SMS on GPRS. People who visit us from the towns tell us there is 2G there, but I wouldn’t know since I don’t even own a smartphone.
At the school, we have a satellite and solar power donated by an NGO several years ago, which lets us connect to the internet, but we don’t use it much because we need the power for refrigeration and lights at night.
I am supposed to check it every week to make sure we answer our emails from the government, and we also use it to submit our reports every month. Sometimes we even gather the students and we let them take turns on the computer to use Google and read whatever they want.
YouYube? Forget it! Too slow! But if we are patient and we have the solar on a full charge, we can sometimes download good ebooks!
Note: These are all fictional representations based on data extrapolated from various public access sources.
And there we have it. The internet, described from 3 different perspectives. We hope you’ve found it useful to see things the way different people do all around the world!
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