South Africa has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last decades, but the country is still working to achieve economical and social stability. Although South Africa is one of the largest countries in the world, it is estimated that just over 52% of the population has access to internet. The country is currently considered as Free in terms of internet and there are no restrictions imposed on social media, but the press freedom is undermined by legal issues and threats. However, freedom of expression is protected under the constitution and while in the last years, pro-government news outlets are on the rise, overall, there is very little self-censorship and the press is varied and very active.
In general, online content can be accessed without major issues, except when it comes to explicit pornographic material. Websites hosted in South Africa can’t feature content that is classified as X18. Those who don’t comply with the legislation can even face jail sentences. The country is also considering a stricter approach towards hate speech on the internet. In 2016, South Africa was one of the few countries to vote against the UN resolution that seeks to defend user’s online rights, including secure internet access, freedom of expression, privacy and protection for those who post controversial opinions on websites and blogs. South Africa was one of the 15 states that objected to the resolution, stating that the right to expression shouldn’t be absolute as the country is looking to deter the rise of online hate speech.
While South Africa’s commitment to prevent hate speech is understandable considering its painful history, it is not clear how it would be establish that something can be classified as hate speech, or defamation, which also is prohibited by law. In addition, concern has been raised regarding the Secrecy Bill, which intends to protect the government’s secrecy in certain matters. The problem is that the way in which the bill, (which is an amendment to the Protection of Information Act 84 of 1982) is worded, grants considerable power to the government. Detractors of the bill fear that this could lead to restrictions on the right to access information.
In general, the situation in South Africa may not be as worrying as in other countries. However, it is important in every case to take measures to protect our own privacy and right to access information without restrictions. Even if internet in South Africa is not subject to heavy censorship, there are geo-blocks that can prevent you from accessing the websites, or using the services that you want. Many popular video and audio streaming services are only available in specific locations, which reduces the amount of content that you can get access to. This is something that a VPN can resolve since it gives you the possibility of connecting to servers in a variety of countries. VPNs allow you to unblock content, protect your privacy, bypass censorship and restrictions, and more.
These are the best VPN options for South Africa.
ExpressVPN is not only one of the most popular providers in the industry, it is alos one of the best. The strong reputation that it enjoys in the VPN industry is backed up with high quality software, remarkable speeds and strong security. Since customers in South Africa need flexibility to bypass geo-blocks and restrictions, as well as protection for their data, ExpressVPN is a great choice because it offers all this and more. Currently, they have servers in 94 countries and they don’t keep logs of your online traffic.
VPNArea has achieved good recognition in the VPN industry thanks to its effective, fast, reliable and secure service. Their client is easy to use and it includes features that will keep your information protected at all time. Your connection will be protected against DNS or IPv6 leaks and the kill switch feature will prevent that your actual IP address is revealed. They have servers in 60 countries and their network continues growing. In addition, VPNArea doesn’t keep logs.
NordVPN is another provider that will help internet users in South Africa to enjoy peace of mind. They don’t keep any logs whatsoever and since they are based in Panama, they are not subject to the surveillance and laws that affect US providers. NordVPN applies a high level of encryption to keep your privacy protected and its network covers nearly 60 countries. You can rely on top security solutions such as double VPN and Tor over VPN.