Venezuela’s largest ISP blocks Tor
Venezuelans have been relying on tools like Tor to access news sources, including local outlets like El Nacional and international ones like CNN en Español, after the government banned them in the country. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to work a little bit harder to circumvent government censorship — according to a report by human rights non-profit group Access Now, the largest ISP in the country, which just happened to be owned by the government, has blocked the software. Previously, people could simply change their DNS to access censored information online, but using Tor or VPN has become a necessity to get around the most recent bans.
Venezuelan journalist Melanio Escobar told Access Now:
“It seems that the government of Venezuela has found out how to do a very sophisticated block for the Tor network. It’s not only on the direct access channels, but also the bridges Tor provides to bypass that blocking. The government is moving forward to be as closed as China or Iran.”
Since the troubled country has been squashing dissent by restricting people’s access to information online, Tor has become a crucial tool for activists and journalists. They could use the browser to read up on current affairs and info from someone else other than the government, as well as to go on social media platforms like Twitter, which blocked a bunch of Venezuelan government accounts last year.
Javier Pallero, Latin America Policy Lead at Access Now, explained that “restricting access to information, and the tools necessary to access that information safely, is a flagrant violation of human rights…” The group is now calling on the Venezuelan government to “reverse course, refrain from imposing further censorship, and to restore the free and open communications that are vital to any healthy democracy.”