Users of VPNs and privacy software have increased in Cuba as the dictatorship cuts off Internet access to crack down on peaceful protesters.
There have been more than 34,000 more downloads of the free VPN-like service Psiphon compared to the two weeks before the incident, independent media organization Inventory reported. Some 89,000 Cubans installed the software on their device in order to bypass the restrictions.
In the early hours of July 15, a wave of internet outages spread across the country as a way to silence protesters. Starting in Pinar del Río and then spreading to the capital, Havana, Cubans took to the streets to denounce the months of food, medicine, fuel and electricity shortages that have paralyzed the island.
Internet blackouts are a growing problem around the world, and are used by authoritarian governments to restrict communications, especially during protests or elections. That is why people have learned to activate one of the best VPN services to mitigate the impacts of accessing censored sites like social media platforms.
Con el apagón de #internet en la madrugada del 15 de julio se incrementó bruscamente la cantidad de usuarios activos de la VPN @PsiphonInc en #Cuba ese día: 33.000 más que el día anterior (unos 34.500 más que la cantidad habitual de las últimas 2 semanas)#KeepitOn https://t.co/TamBvriiSI pic.twitter.com/RZvny4GQ2c— invntario (@invntario) July 17, 2022
Why is Psiphon so popular in Cuba?
Developed by Citizen Lab researchers in 2007 to help users living with restricted freedom on the Internet, Psiphon is circumvention software that allows users to bypass Internet censorship.
It is completely free and open source, and combines secure communication and obfuscation technologies. Use VPN, SSH, and web proxy software to beat strong firewalls that other services can’t get past.
Psiphon works by diverting web traffic to prevent filtering machines from filtering your online activities. At the same time, it masks your traffic so that it appears to be a connection not subject to current restrictions.
The software is available for Android, Windows and iOS. The free version comes with unlimited bandwidth and no registration required, but is capped at a speed of 2 Mbps. You can also upgrade to Psiphon Pro for $9.99 per month, or $8.33 per month on the annual plan.
There are also plenty of free VPN apps. Many of these services may expose your data or fail to unblock censored sites. The recommendation is to continue using Proton VPN Free.