In the face of authoritarian regimes’ attempts to manipulate and limit internet access, people seek refuge in Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass these restrictions.
These tools for countering censorship become the lifeline for those grappling with social media bans, allowing them to connect and communicate amidst the turmoil that typically accompanies such crackdowns.
In Pakistan, the demand for VPNs skyrocketed after the government blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms on May 9. This action was taken in response to the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, triggering widespread violent protests, which also resulted in blockades and traffic jams.
On May 9, there was a remarkable surge in the demand for VPN services, which witnessed a staggering 311% increase compared to the average daily usage observed during the preceding 28 days. As of the late afternoon on May 10, the demand for VPNs had further soared, reaching an extraordinary 846% above the average.
This report comes from Top10VPN which monitors VPN usage and fluctuations around the world. The data is presented in the form of monthly reports and compared to the previous 30 days for comparison.
In addition to the VPN spike, access to mobile broadband services was completely severed throughout the entire country. We suspect that VPN usage is only going to increase further as the social media outage continues to persist throughout the protests.