Censored Countries

Streaming platforms can look very different depending on which country you are watching from. Whilst you can access exclusive content using a residential proxy, other topics are completely off-limits in certain countries.

To find out more about how censorship differs across the world, we have delved into a range of internet-based data. Using factors from pornography to VPNs and more, we have revealed the most censored countries in the world. Here’s what we found.

With an overall score of 8.03/10, the United Arab Emirates is more censored than any other country

To find out which countries are the most censored, we have looked at the percentage of the population using VPNs, the restriction status of pornography, VPNs, and torrents, as well as the percentage of internet users in each country.

1. United Arab Emirates

8.03 /10

Overall Score /10

Taking the title of the world's most censored country, with a score of 8.03 /10, is the United Arab Emirates. One of the factors contributing to the UAE’s first-place entry in our list is the fact that 43.2% of the population has adopted the use of VPNs despite the fact that VPNs are restricted in this country. There are also restrictions here when it comes to pornography and torrents which limits the content available to the residents of this country.

2. Qatar


Overall Score /10

With an overall score of 6.95 /10, Qatar is the second most censored country in the world. Content in this country is restricted when it comes to pornography and VPNs, with both resources being illegal - you could be faced with a prison sentence if you are caught in the act.

3. Saudi Arabia


Overall Score /10

Completing our top three list of the most censored countries is Saudi Arabia. This country has restrictions on the use of VPNs which is likely why only 27.1% of the population has adopted the use of these private networks. As well as this, pornography has been restricted across the country which has contributed to its overall 6.89 /10 censorship score.

Overall most censored countries in the world

KEY: Number of VPN downloads Population VPN adoption as a % of the population People using the Internet as a % of the population Is pornography restricted? Are VPNs restricted? Are torrents banned/ shut down? Overall score /10


Only 1.48% of residents in Japan use VPNs less than any other country in the world

As well as revealing the overall most censored countries, we have given each factor its own individual ranking. Below is a list of the countries with the lowest proportion of VPN users in relation to their population.

1. Japan


VPN adoption by population

Taking the top spot in our list, with only 1.48% of the population having adopted VPNs, is Japan. With over 1.8 million downloads, it may sound like this country has a large number of VPN users, but when the population is taken into account Japan has the lowest percentage of VPN users.

2. Thailand


VPN adoption by population

Thailand has fewer VPN downloads than any other country in our top three which equates to 1.91% of the population - the second lowest of any country in this list. Thailand is among the countries spending the most time on the internet every day which suggests that the people here are happy with the content they are able to access.

3. Nigeria


VPN adoption by population

The third lowest proportion of VPN users when compared to its population belongs to the country of Nigeria. Only 3.47% of users here have adopted VPNs, but the fact that over 55% of this population uses the internet indicates that many people in this country are yet to jump on the bandwagon.

Countries with the lowest percentage of VPN users per population

KEY: Number of VPN downloads Population VPN adoption as a % of the population


Which countries have restrictions on pornography?

Pornography, which includes any sort of sexually explicit content, can come in various forms with the most common being photographs and videos. From religious beliefs to the protection of children, there are many reasons why countries have implemented restrictions on pornography.

A total of 24 countries on our list have placed restrictions on pornography, with many placing emphasis on the impropriety of child-related pornography. However, in some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the distribution and/ or possession of any sexually explicit content could land you a jail sentence.

Is pornography restricted?



One of the most common reasons for using a VPN is to allow users to access content, such as Netflix, from different geographic locations. More importantly than this, VPNs offer protection and security for you and your data which means that you can watch your favorite show in safe hands.

VPNs may sound like a win-win, but there are a handful of countries that think otherwise. Turkey and Belarus are among the nine countries on our list that have placed restrictions on the use of VPNs.

Which countries have restrictions on VPNs?


Sharing torrent files is generally innocent and is most commonly done between peers, but unfortunately, this resource can be taken advantage of. As a result of this, many countries have implemented restrictions on the type of content that you can share through torrents.

In countries such as the US and the UK, it is illegal to torrent any copyrighted material. However, some countries are much stricter in their legalities including the United Arab Emirates which has a ban on torrents in any form where residents could face a fine and/ or jail sentence if caught torrenting files.

Are Torrents Banned/ Shut Down?




We used Atlas VPN to find the VPN usage of each country in 2022 - Ukraine and Russia were removed from the ranking.

We used World Bank to find the percentage of internet users in each country in 2021.

We used Populace to find the restriction status of pornography and VPNs for each country in 2022.

We used Comparitech to find which countries have banned/ shut down torrents as of 2023.

Finally, we used the censored factors (VPN adoption, internet users, whether or not pornography and VPNs are restricted, and whether torrents are banned/ shut down) and normalized each factor out of 10 before taking an average of those scores to get our overall ‘censored score’.