Is a VPN needed in Nauru?

Is a VPN needed in Nauru?

Nauru, a small island nation in the Pacific, spans only 21 square kilometers but has significant global implications in terms of digital rights and freedoms. Despite its size, Nauru’s recent actions concerning freedom of speech, censorship, and privacy have drawn international attention.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Nauruans generally enjoy political rights and civil liberties. However, the government has been accused of sidelining political opponents, notably the Nauru 19, activists charged with crimes linked to a 2015 anti-government protest. Corruption remains a challenge, and the treatment of asylum seekers under an agreement with Australia has been a source of sustained international criticism.

Elections and Government Transparency

The parliamentary elections in September 2022 were deemed free and fair by the Pacific Islands Forum. Russ Kun, elected as president, was an independent candidate and ran unopposed. Despite the fair conduct of elections, the Pacific Freedom Forum criticized the lack of free and full access to news media. Moreover, Nauru lacks a law on public information access, and financial disclosures by government officials are not mandatory.

Internet Censorship and Free Expression

Nauru’s government has recently imposed internet shutdowns under the pretext of protecting citizens from online pornography. A new law in the criminal code threatens to restrict free expression, potentially criminalizing statements “likely to threaten” public order. This law is particularly concerning as it could be used to suppress government criticism.

Surveillance and Privacy

While there is no evidence of the Nauruan authorities illegally monitoring private online communications, the National Disaster Risk Management (Amendment) Bill 2020, presented by President Aingimea, raised concerns. This law prohibits the publication of content intended to mislead the public or distort official information and expands police powers during national disasters. Additionally, reports indicate that the Australian government engaged private contractors to surveil asylum seekers in Nauru, sharing intelligence with various government entities.


Nauru’s digital rights landscape presents a complex picture. While the nation holds free and fair elections, challenges remain in media freedom, internet censorship, and government transparency. The recent legal changes and internet restrictions are alarming, especially given their potential to suppress dissent and limit free expression. As Nauru navigates these issues, it continues to draw international scrutiny and highlights the importance of vigilance in protecting digital rights and freedoms.

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