Internet search engine censorship is practiced in a few countries around the world for reasons of filtering pornography and controlling government criticism, criminal activity, and free trade. The reasons all boil down to the categories of cultural values, money, and/or power. Internet access is provided by local internet service providers (ISP) in the host country and the ISP must comply with local laws in order to remain in business. It is usually at the point of the ISP that search engines as well as individual web sites are placed under censorship and blocked. Advocates of internet and search engine censorship mostly give reasons surrounding the protection of cultural values which is true to some extent but most of the time it has to do more with controlling the masses.

Censorship can be placed against businesses. Search engine and internet censorship is not just reserved for political activists and dissidents. There are powerful local businesses that fear outside competition and will work to have those company names blocked from search engines. A recent example is the Chinese having Google China block searches relating to the French hypermarket chain Carrefour. The anger from Chinese people has to do with the Tibetan/Chinese conflict and France gave the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama honorary French citizenship. However one must look further in that censorship may have been ordered by the Chinese government in order to keep any protesting from taking place within its borders.

Search engines have to comply with laws of other countries even though in U.S. Google is a US-based firm however if it wants to maintain a presence in a market that holds much potential like China, it has to meet in the middle.

One way to get around search engine and internet censorship is to use Tor. One method used by those subject to internet search engine censorship is to use free software known as Tor. Many international travelers use the internet to deliver work back to their home country. Many of these people are journalists, reporters, and researchers that need full use of the internet without censorship. This is where software like Tor can help. Tor is the software product from and it uses a combination of programs, a browser plug-in, and proxy servers worldwide to anonymize a computer’s IP address making it look like it is based in another country.

Carry a portable version of Firefox and Tor on USB. You can download and install on your USB thumb drive what is known as a portable version of both the Firefox web browser and Tor. Where this comes in handy is if you find yourself in a country practicing heavy censorship then the internet cafes will be restricted as well. You can plug in your thumb drive and use this software to get around the censorship because the Internet cafes usually will not let you install the software.

Be smart about bypassing censored internet search engines and websites. It is up to you to find out the laws of a particular country concerning censorship. The point is that if you use methods to get around censorship, you could get in hot water. Probably the best thing to do would be to use Firefox and Tor on a USB thumb drive, on your laptop, and using a mobile phone SIM card device that uses General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) to access the internet.

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