Can you imagine how the world was able to function without the Internet? Being connected nowadays has become an absolute necessity, so much so that people almost cannot work correctly without it. You would have no news, lesser social connections, and an endless amount of boredom without Internet access.
However, the spread of information brought about by the Internet has made some governments conscious of what their citizens are reading, much like how a parent is concerned over what his or her children are viewing as they browse. Some countries have placed restrictions on certain websites to regulate Internet access. Most notable of these countries are China and North Korea, both of which were known to have significantly banned their citizens from accessing social media sites.
Internet Freedom in Germany
In terms of Internet freedom, Germany is relatively not strict when dealing with its citizens’ Internet access. Internet monitoring organizations have reported that it has zero evidence of censorship. Anyone in this country is free to use the Internet as much as they please.
In Germany, they have what is called the Netzwerdurchsetzungsgesetz, or NetzDG for short. This is a law that calls for the immediate removal of “hate speech, fake news, and illegal material” in social media sites once detected. If these sites fail to remove the offending content within 24 hours, they will be fined up to fifty million euros.
The German government also takes actions against heinous crimes such as child pornography and extremism. Also, there was an issue between Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA), a group who sought to protect recording artists, and Google because of copyrighted music being posted on YouTube. However, they ended with a settlement, and both parties reached a peaceful conclusion.
Germany is a country located around the Central European area. It has an estimated population of 83 million and a land area of 357,386 km or 137,988 square miles.
Germany is famous for its beers and festivals; the most notable of them is Oktoberfest. Some of the best musical composers like Ludwig van Beethoven, George Friedrich Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Johann Sebastian Bach all hailed from this country. In terms of cuisine, the sausage called Bratwurst comes from Germany.
In terms of Internet usage, a total of 62.4 million people in Germany, roughly translating to 89.8 percent of its total population, are Internet users. On average, Germans spend around 165 minutes each day surfing the web. Men use the Internet forty percent more than women, clocking in about 175 minutes per day.
Internet speeds in Germany reach about an average of 21.3 MB/s in terms of downloading. However, by 2020, they are planning to roll out a network expansion program which involves having 5G as the standard internet speed.
The most widely used messaging app in Germany is WhatsApp. Forty million people rely on it to communicate with their friends, family, and colleagues. There are also around 21 million Germans on Facebook.
Germany’s tech industry is also thriving. The top IT company there is Google, with three of its branches located in Munich, Hamburg, and Berlin. Like in other countries, Google’s offices are a haven for employees, having benefits that are unmatched by other companies.
Other top IT companies in Germany include Rocket Internet, Amazon Web Services, Mckinsey, and Debut Infotech. Most of them are located in either Berlin or Munchen.
Why You Need VPNs in Germany
If you’re not yet familiar with what a VPN is, here’s a quick refresher. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, a service that allows someone to browse the web completely anonymously. Whatever you’re doing online is hidden from anyone, and your IP address is made to appear like you’re from somewhere else.
Despite having almost complete Internet freedom in Germany, it’s still essential that you use a VPN while browsing the web. Here are some reasons why:
- Some content from other countries may not be available
Let’s say you’re in Germany, and you want to check out something on Netflix or Hulu. You go to their website only to find out that their content is blocked in your country. Don’t lose hope, because VPNs are here to help you out.
You can use a VPN to stream content that is available only in selected countries. The VPN can make you appear as if you’re from the United States, for example, which allows you to watch Netflix or Hulu completely unrestricted. The VPN will also hide you from watchdogs, so you won’t even have to worry about being caught.
- P2P file sharing becomes possible again
Peer To Peer (P2P) File Sharing is an activity that is applauded by Internet users but frowned upon by big corporations. Someone uploads a file onto a file-sharing site for others to download. It’s frowned upon because it became the hub for piracy, damaging big studios in the process.
P2P sharing can be risky without the use of VPNs since your IP address can be traced if you are caught downloading from the Internet. What’s more, P2P websites have been banned in Norway. It’s advisable for you to use a VPN so that you can hide from authorities and access sites by changing your IP address.
- Safety when using public Wi-Fi hotspots
The presence of public Wi-Fi is a godsend for those who want to browse on the go. They get to save their mobile data by utilizing the free Internet connection. However, this also exposes them to hackers that can track their device and eavesdrop on their confidential information.
Thankfully, VPNs are available for you to use to avoid this risk. When you’re surfing the Internet somewhere as free as Germany, you have to use VPNs to hide from would-be cyber attackers. Once you’re protected, you can continue browsing in peace.
- Bypass internet restrictions in offices or schools
For productivity purposes, offices and schools tend to limit the Internet access of their employees and students, so that they can focus on more important matters. However, if you need to take a break for a while or research on something, a restrictive network suddenly becomes a hassle. For example, you won’t be able to use YouTube to view a TED Talk that can help you with your presentation.
To get around these restrictions, use a VPN. It will hide your activity from the watchers at the IT department, allowing you to browse more freely and continue your research or relax by watching videos. After all, all work and no play makes anyone a dull person.
- Hide your activity from authorities
It’s a common belief that the governments sometimes spy on their citizens’ web activity, possibly for both security and self-serving reasons. They want to track down criminal activity but at the same time, look for signs of rebellion. Other countries take it one step further by completely controlling what websites their citizens can view.
While the environment in Germany is relatively loose in terms of Internet restrictions, it’s still wise to use a VPN to hide your activity. You never know what the governments there are planning in terms of maintaining security. Using a VPN also protects your right to privacy, something that governments around the world must respect.
- Protect the privacy of phone calls and video calls
Social media sites and mobile apps allow you to call your friends and family members via an Internet connection. It’s also possible for you to talk to them face to face by using cameras. However, malicious individuals may eavesdrop upon these calls.
For this reason, it’s advisable to conduct video calls while using a VPN. It shields you from hackers and protects the privacy of your conversations and video feeds. That way, you can continue with your calls in peace.
- Protect your search history
Let’s face it: we’re all ashamed of our search history. Whether it’s wholly incriminating or just something we don’t like to share, we all want to keep our search history private. This is not the case, however, if we don’t do something to protect ourselves.
Using a VPN allows you to conduct your searches in complete privacy. Your activity is hidden well enough that your recent searches will not be visible, even to would-be hackers. It’s better to search in confidence than risk being exposed.
In a country like Germany, where Internet activity has little to no supervision, it’s relatively easy for hackers to sneak in and do their worst on unsuspecting victims. This is the undeniable price of the freedom that people from stricter countries do not have the privilege of experiencing. Thus, it’s crucial for you to be educated on what you can do to keep browsing safely.
All the reasons above should be enough to convince you to use a VPN when browsing the Internet. Your privacy is a priority to be protected since being traced can lead to more significant risks such as DDoS attacks, identity theft, stolen information, and other dangerous cybercrimes. So whether you are from Germany, or you are planning to travel there in the future, make sure that you have a handy VPN installed in your device before browsing. Happy surfing!