Surfshark, NetBlocks Collaborate to Track Internet Restrictions

Surfshark logo on a smartphone

Cybersecurity company Surfshark on Monday announced it is partnering with digital rights watchdog, NetBlocks, to map internet shutdowns around the globe, and shed light on internet freedom.

Both organizations proactively report on internet restrictions, and collaborating will allow them to “share their expertise and best practices.”

“Surfshark and NetBlocks understand the importance of open and free internet for all. Via our new partnership, we’ll be able to bring greater awareness and understanding of the threats to our online freedom,” Surfshark said in a blog post.

‘Internet Disruptions Happening Ever More Frequently’

Internet shutdowns, censorship, and other forms of online restrictions have become increasingly common, especially in countries or cities experiencing protests and political turmoil.

In 2022 alone, these restrictions have affected almost two billion people, many of whom are in Asia and South America. India and the Jammu and Kashmir region account for approximately one-third of the 83 cases of internet restriction in the first half of this year, NetBlocks said in a blog post.

According to the internet watchdog, 24 countries have enforced some form of internet restriction this year, including, most recently, Russia.

Oppressive regimes are also “increasingly” opting to limit access to social media to curtail free speech. This is “especially prevalent in countries where authorities own or control internet infrastructure.”

“With internet disruptions happening ever more frequently, we have our work cut out for us,” Vytautas Kaziukonis, the CEO of Surfshark, said. “Surfshark strongly believes in this mission, and alongside being a VPN developer, reports on such issues constantly, touching on country-specific issues, wider trends in censorship, and producing deep reports on the subject.”

What to Expect From the Collaboration

The aim of the partnership is to share expertise and best practices to track and report on internet restrictions.

“At the same time, we’ll also be able to talk in greater depth about the tools to counter it. For example, a VPN can overcome most blocks such countries impose, be they IP (Internet Protocol), DNS (Domain Name System), or Deep Packet Inspection-based,” Surfshark said.

While Surfshark is primarily known for its suite of internet security services, including Surfshark VPN, the company also tracks internet restrictions globally. Its interactive tracker provides valuable data on internet shutdowns and censorship.

“Surfshark is a valuable ally and we’re excited to step up our relationship together to reach more users in support of cybersecurity, internet freedom and fundamental human rights around the world. In times of crisis, enabling seamless communications can support media freedom, protect democracy, and save lives,” Alp Toker, the CEO of NetBlocks, said.

Technology policy researcher
Prateek is a technology policy researcher with a background in law. His areas of interest include data protection, privacy, digital currencies, and digital literacy. Outside of his research interests, Prateek is an avid reader and is engaged in projects on sustainable farming practices in India.