Bypassing censorship: How to access OCCRP in countries where the site is blocked

Credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash
Published: April 24, 2020

When OCCRP published our 2017 investigation into a US$2.9 billion money laundering scheme we dubbed the “Azerbaijani Laundromat,” many people in Azerbaijan couldn’t read it. The country’s elites, wary of having their corrupt practices exposed, blocked our website in the hope the news would not spread.

That wasn’t the first time we’ve been blocked, nor will it be the last. In order to ensure that everyone, everywhere can read our investigations, we put together this guide on how to browse OCCRP content anonymously — no matter where you live.

One of many error messages you might see if you live in an area that has blocked OCCRP websites. Credit: OCCRP

Please save this information offline if you think your country might block OCCRP in the future.

#1 Internet Archive’s ‘WayBack Machine’

The Internet Archive (Archive.org) is a nonprofit organization that has saved over 20 years of web pages, including those published as recently as yesterday. The Wayback Machine is a digital library of snapshots of these pages on a given date.

Using the site, you should be able to access all OCCRP pages from our archived homepage, whether you want to browse or find a specific investigation. Check out our website on a date of your choosing: https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.occrp.org/en

#2 OCCRP’s ‘Tor Onion’ service - http://occrpweb4n2vlmih.onion

The Tor Project is a non-profit dedicated to advancing human rights and freedoms through free and open source software, with a focus on anonymity and privacy.

One of its projects, Tor Browser, connects to a network of thousands of volunteers who run software that enables users to hide their location as they surf the web, as well as where they want to connect. The browser can be used on most platforms, including smartphones.

You can download Tor Browser from their website. For more instructions on how to install and use Tor Browser, consult this manual. For Android there’s also a Tor Browser as well as for your iPhone.

Once downloaded, you can access OCCRP’s website anonymously from anywhere by typing into the address bar of Tor Browser either https://occrp.org/ or, if you’re more technical, http://occrpweb4n2vlmih.onion/.

Access to the Tor network is blocked in some countries. However, there’s ways around it using technology called Tor Bridges, which offers encrypted and anonymous ways to access the network. You can request a Tor Bridge by going to https://bridges.torproject.org or e-mailing bridges@torproject.org. Leave the email subject empty and write "get transport obfs4" in the email's message body. This only works with Gmail addresses.

You can find more information on how to get around censorship using Tor on the project’s blog.

#3 VPN services

There are various VPN (virtual private network) services available around the world that can be used to route around internet censorship. Pick one that you believe will handle your data responsibly. Services without a subscription fee are likely profiting from your data.

More options

The arms race between repressive states and people dedicated to bypassing censorship isn’t over yet. OCCRP will keep adding new tools to this page as they are rolled out, so you can keep reading our content wherever you are in the world.

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