The pandemic, war in Ukraine, protests in Iran and catastrophic natural disasters like the recent earthquake in Türkiye all have us shaking our heads in shock, disbelief and horror. Feelings of despair or hopelessness seem to come in waves - some decide to take a “break from the news” for the sake of their own mental health and to try to shift their focus on to positivity - I get it, sometimes it all gets a bit much.
But there it is again: “taking a break from the news” is a decision made by you and I as individuals. Whether we take this break or not, we know that we have access, reliable access, to a variety of news sources which we can choose from ourselves.
Our web is open. Our online access is (relatively) unrestricted. Our internet is (again, relatively) borderless. We are not ring fenced, or inhibited, by a third party, government or Force Majeure like an earthquake.
“Taking a break from the news”? That’s kind of a luxury when the faucet of news outlets available to you keeps running uninterrupted, regardless.
Most people’s “breaks” from the internet are imposed on them by Splinternet-inspired governments
Here are some recent examples of internet shutdowns which are a sad reality for many:
Although currently restored, government authorities in Türkiye restricted access to Twitter on Wednesday 8 February 2023, as reported by NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cybersecurity and the governance of the Internet, and subsequently, reported by global news outlets. The fact that this was brazenly done in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake boggles the mind.
Russia, already known for its ability to craft or manipulate news narratives to its advantage, both in their own country as well as overseas, has seen its economy lose $860 million this year alone because the government keeps shutting down the internet.
A particularly severe illustration of how far regimes might go in limiting digital access can be seen in the Iranian government’s latest attempts to quell protests in recent months through internet blackouts, digital curfews, and content banning.
Unfortunately the list goes on and on, and doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon.
Empowerment through a peer-to-peer network
Peer-to-peer. Put simply, this means this is you and a community of people like you, sharing resources, thereby minimizing cost. This is what allows Hola to provide a freemium as well as paying version (Premium).
Now for some tech terms: Hola’s free product is built as a peer-to-peer overlay network for HTTP, which routes the sites you choose through other Hola users' devices as well as through servers. Users that opt-in to the peers' community agree to contribute their device's resources to the network. Hola takes up resources from these users' devices. This makes Hola the first service that has minimal underlying operational costs.
By providing a peer-to-peer network, Hola empowers its users to contribute their unused resources to those who need them most - we create a community of empowerment, together.
As well as the free version of Hola, Hola’s Premium product extends the benefits of Hola Free to more sites and more platforms, such as mobile devices, SmartTVs, game consoles etc. For this, Hola Premium uses a dedicated network of high performance servers, thereby allowing users to opt out of becoming a peer.
The people across the countries mentioned above - their access to reliable online information is being restricted. They are being deprived of their online freedom. The internet is not borderless, but is being roadblocked at an ever increasing rate.
Hola will continue on a path of innovation, inspired by our customers and how we can keep improving, expanding and safeguarding their online lives and experiences. This is our commitment.
To join the Hola community, head on over to www.hola.org