The following list is ordered by increase in VPN installs year-on-year as a percentage. Install period is the 12 months from October to September. Absolute VPN install totals for 2018/19 are in brackets.
- India – 405% (57.0 million)
- Jordan – 387% (3.6 million)
- Kazakhstan – 210% (4.1 million)
- Algeria – 205% (4.8 million)
- Vietnam – 140% (5.6 million)
- Indonesia – 111% (75.5 million)
- Nigeria – 107% (5.3 million)
- Egypt – 95% (5.8 million)
- Singapore – 83% (1.9 million)
- South Africa – 82% (1.5 million)
Note: Countries with less than 1 million installs over last 12 months were excluded from this list
The largest increases in mobile VPN installs year-over-year, in India, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Algeria, were largely driven by specific spikes in demand in those countries, which we explore in the next section of this report.
Other, more incremental growth markets, shared a common theme surrounding either the introduction or tightening of cybercrime-related legislation.
Vietnam and Singapore both passed new laws in 2019, which allow authorities to censor online content through obliging technology companies to relinquish user information and remove unfavorable posts.
Egyptian authorities made use of their new 2018 Cybercrimes Law, to block 34,000 websites connected to an opposition campaign called “Void”. The campaign had gained 250,000 signatures against Egypt’s constitutional referendum earlier this year. The referendum extended President el-Sisi’s political reach and presidential term to 2030.
Similarly, Nigeria has ramped up targeted attacks on journalists and publicly critical postings that exposed police brutality, corruption and covert oil blocks in the Niger Delta on the basis of breaching “cybercrime” regulations.
VPN installs increased in South Africa when the government was caught undertaking mass surveillance on all communications. The government tried to justify this breach of their own Regulation of Interception of Communications Act of 2002 (RICA) and the National Security Act of 1994 (NSIA) on national security grounds. This was rejected by the High Court, which ruled the state’s activities were unlawful.
Countries with smaller volumes of total installs but who also experienced significant year-over-year increases included:
Zimbabwe – There were over 320,000 mobile VPN installs in last 12 months. This 250% surge compared to the prior year coincided with the suppression of social media access from January 2019 in response to mass unrest prompted by a 150% jump in fuel prices.
The government has also moved to block VPN services that the public were using to bypass website restrictions. Since the shutdown, VPN specific searches from Google also increased by over 850%.
Lebanon – Almost 995,000 mobile VPN apps were downloaded over the last 12 months, an increase of 119% year-on-year. Over the same period, the country experienced a spike in online content-related arrests of citizens, activists and journalists. The LGBTQ community also became a target with arrests relating to LGBTQ content online, while popular LGBTQ app Grindr was blocked in January 2019.
A block of 50 websites also targeted adult entertainment, illegal gambling and Israel-related content. New laws granted security officials unlimited access to all telecommunications metadata.
Jump to full list of country-level install data, alphabetized