13/10/2016

How to access blocked websites in India

Much to the dismay of the common Indian netizen, Indian government maintains a list of blocked websites that are seemingly unfit to be visited by someone. While some of the websites in there deserve to be in such a list, there are several others that are actually useful websites. Most of the ones I care about among these are torrent websites, which, although are the home for most pirated digital content, still have some useful legally free content that can be easily downloaded from there.

Whatever be the reason, these bans are absurd for one single reason - no government can prevent its people from accessing something on the internet, not unless it arrests the people behind the website and take the website down, or simply make it illegal for the ISPs to provide internet services to the public. For every other method that the government might try to implement, this guide should work fine for you. Do note that I don't owe any legal responsibility for any of your actions (though it is perhaps more likely that you get hit by a lightning instead).

ISPs in India show this message on trying to access a blocked website in India

How to access blocked websites on PC:

For Chrome users:
  • If you use Chrome, install Browsec extension. Though there are several other free options for using a VPN service (like Betternet, Hola et al), but from my experience with all of them, Browsec is the one that I'd recommend.
  • Once the extension is installed, it'd appear on the right hand side of the address bar on your Chrome browser. Clicking the globe like icon will give you the option to enable or disable Privacy Protection.
    Browsec extension with privacy protection enabled
  • As long as the Privacy Protection option is enabled, you can access all blocked websites by typing their address as you usually do for any other website.
For Firefox/Opera users:
  • Browsec is available for both Firefox and Opera. If you don't like Browsec, search "VPN" in your browser's extension store.
If you use any other browser (like Internet Explorer), try switching to a browser that supports extensions and then look for a vpn extension for that one. If, instead, you want a vpn service that works across all your applications on your computer, try Betternet for Windows or a similar VPN software for Windows.

How to access blocked websites on your smartphone:

If you have Chrome browser installed:
  • Open Chrome browser. Tap the three dots icon present on the top right corner. Then tap on the Settings option.
  • Once in settings, scroll down to get to the data saver option and enable it. What this does is, it passes all your traffic through google servers, and thus, the blockade put on by the Indian ISPs.
Data Saver on Chrome can be enabled from here

If you don't have Chrome browser installed:
  • Go to App Store or Play Store (depending on whether you have an Android or iOS device), and search for VPN in there. Browsec is available for iPhone, so you might want to check it out. For Android, try Betternet.
Apart from getting access to blocked websites, you can use these vpn extensions/apps discussed above to access location restricted websites like Spotify, Youtube Red etc.
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