The Internet in Bangladesh is, in a word, horrendous. Believe it or not, they have one of the lowest percentages of populations that have Internet access in the world. They simply don’t have a well-developed Internet infrastructure, and it isn’t common for citizens to have high speed Internet. The only nations with lower Internet penetration percentages include countries such as Myanmar and North Korea, making Bangladesh among the most notorious nations in the world in terms of Internet connectivity and censorship. Reporters Without Borders even ranked them 144th out of 180 countries in their 2016 report.
However, mobile technologies have been changing things up a bit. An unusually high number of people only have Internet access through their mobile phones – as much as 9 out of 10 Internet users. As a developing nation, Bangladesh has made great efforts to promote the burgeoning Internet infrastructure, but they do censor a great many websites. Though they do have strong censorship programs, the largest target in their crosshairs is pornographic and politically offensive sites. Having said that, in the past they have completely blocked access to Facebook on multiple occasions.
In addition, they even blocked YouTube five years ago because a video was posted regarding the Prime Minister and military officers, and then again in 2012 due to additional content that was deemed offensive. You will also find that Islamic extremists have made it their personal mission to fight those that post messages that are offensive to their culture, government, and religion. This has led to events where journalists, bloggers, and social media users have been the victims of violent attacks. The two largest factors that lead to censorship include politically and religiously offensive content by a landslide.
Surveillance Activities and Consequences
Since 2007, surveillance hasn’t been a large issue in Bangladesh. After all, there are many other nations, such as the US and the UK, that have much more sophisticated surveillance programs. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is no surveillance present within the country. One report claimed that some bloggers and journalists have been monitored by the government, and that they were even forced to forfeit passwords and personal information to the government.
While this may sound invasive – and it is – there are more troubling problems. In 2013 several bloggers were arrested for statements and opinions they posted online despite the freedom of speech defined in the constitution. There is even evidence that suggest the government tracks people online who they believe to be anti-Muslim.
Religion, Culture, and Politics
In February of 2013, there was a lot of tension between nationalists, Islamic groups, and liberal journalists. Such political turmoil as allegations against Abdul Quader Mollah and the ban of the Jamaat-e-Islami party stirred up a lot of controversy. In all the uproar, there were numerous attacks – many of them targeting Internet users for content they posted online. For these reasons, it is highly inadvisable to post anything offensive towards religion, national culture, or the political system without the Internet security of a VPN tunnel.
Using a VPN in Bangladesh
The absolute best way to protect yourself online in Bangladesh while simultaneously circumventing censorship programs is to use a VPN tunnel. However, you must make sure that you connect to VPN servers located outside the country to fully secure your data as it is in transit through the Internet. Also, be aware that for greater security, you shouldn’t browse the Internet in a public place where people can see what you are saying, posting, or accessing.
Furthermore, understand that a VPN tunnel won’t protect users who make statements on social media profiles that reveal their identity. Personal pictures, the name of the account, and other evidence can still be seen by authorities after it has been posted. In addition, users in Bangladesh will likely want to connect to servers hosted in Hong Kong, or even Singapore because they are nearby locations with favorable Internet regulations. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the best VPNs for Bangladesh.
VPN for Bangladesh – Top Picks:
ExpressVPN is our top pick for users in Bangladesh. They have servers in 78 countries around the world, and they have fast and reliable server connections. Plus, they have servers located near Bangladesh in Hong Kong among a few other select Asian locations. The quality of their service is fantastic, and they offer 24/7 support to help out any users that run into technical difficulties. Be aware that they allow simultaneous connections between 1 computer and 1 handheld device and the even have a 30-day money back gauarntee. However, there are a couple drawbacks including the fact that Express VPN is based in the US and they are a little more expensive than other providers.
VyprVPN is a good fit for users in Bangladesh who distrust the US government. To date they operate 700+ servers in 50 countries, and they have a moderate Asian presence with servers in Hong Kong as well. There are different versions and packages of their service, but the pro version can be purchased for as little as $6.25 per month, and it has amazing features such as per-application tunnel routing, a VPN kill-switch, NAT firewall, and up to 50GB of online storage. In addition, they even provide a free trial of their service to give users time to test out their service, though the free trial is encumbered by monthly data limits.
PureVPN is an obvious choice for users in Bangladesh as well. One of the key advantages of their service is server flexibility. They have one of the most wide-spread networks of VPN servers out of all the VPN providers. Today they have 500+ servers in 181 locations in 140 countries around the world, and users in Bangladesh won’t have any trouble finding a server that is near their geographic location. In addition, they are a good choice because they allow up to 5 simultaneous connections per user account. They cover all the major operating systems, and the monthly cost of their service is only $4.16 when users opt for a long term plan.
PIA VPN is another fantastic alternative with some similarities to PureVPN. Like PureVPN, PIA VPN is low cost and allows up to 5 simultaneous connections per account. However, they are a little bit cheaper per month with a 1-year plan. The price can drop as low as $3.33 per month, but there are some stark differences as well. Most importantly, PIA VPN only has servers in 24 countries, though they have more servers total (3,100+ servers). Still, they do have servers in Asia such as Hong Kong, and they even have a 7-day money back guarantee. Last but not least, note that they do allow P2P traffic through their servers.
VPNArea is our last pick, and they offer a service that is very comparable to the preceding services with only a few minor differences. First off, note that they have servers in 51 countries and have nearby Asian servers for users in Bangladesh. Also, like the previous two providers, they allow up to 5 simultaneous connections per account. However, they offer a 7-day free trial to allow users to test out their service. While 7 days isn’t a lot of time, it is most likely adequate to gain an understanding of how their service works. Yet another notable feature of their service is an anti-DNS leak protection mechanism, and they are relatively inexpensive at $4.92 per month.