In Saudi Arabia, net users can't get access to websites of opposition groups. Jordan and Bahrain both briefly banned Google Earth, citing security concerns. The Chinese government doesn't let netizens get to the BBC site in any language.
So what's a curious Web surfer to do in these Net-filtering countries?
They should get to know a kind-hearted soul using Psiphon (http://psiphon.civisec.org/), a software tool created by researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab. By downloading this piece of software, someone in a free-thinking country like Canada can let a person in a restrictive society gain safe access to a portal to the uncensored Web.
Any Canadian can help any Chinese log onto the BBC site securely, for example. Psiphon hosts - those who download the free software - can invite people they know to use their PCs' Web connection, giving them access to any site they like.
It's become a popular application since its late 2006 launch; Psiphon has been downloaded more than 110,000 times.
"Psiphon is built around the social network of trust," says Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab and one of Psiphon's chief architects.
He says the host would be wise to know the Net user on the other end of the connection, whether that person is a friend, family member or co-worker. It might be risky to let a stranger use a Psiphon portal, he says, because the host would be responsible if the Web wanderer visited illegal child porn sites, for example.
But Psiphon has an answer for that problem. Hosts can monitor where their users browse, Deibert says, which has a twofold purpose.
"The person hosting the proxy server can see what users are doing and can shut down the connection if they don't like what they see," he says. "On the other end, the user is encouraged to access the Net for more human rights reasons rather than surfing on extreme porn sites."
Circumvention tools in oppressive countries are nothing new, but Deibert stresses that Psiphon is aimed at the average computer user. The process to download Psiphon is extremely simple. Also, layers of security protect the frightened Russian Web user who might be worried that Putin is looking over his or her shoulder.
"From the perspective of government monitors, using Psiphon looks like any financial transaction," says Deibert. "There's no fingerprint on Psiphon traffic, so it's kept under the radar."
Other than those living in Net-censoring countries, who else could take advantage of this liberating software? Deibert says non-governmental organizations and travelling journalists are using Psiphon when dot-comming from areas like the Middle East and China.
As a member of the OpenNet Initiative, an international group that exposes and analyzes Net surveillance, Deibert has watched the growth of Web censorship.
Recently in the news, Sri Lanka blocked domestic access to a site favouring the Tamil Tigers rebels; in April, Thailand blocked YouTube after politicians found several videos criticizing the country's monarch; and the OpenNet Initiative found that 25 of 41 countries surveyed practise Internet censorship, up from three countries in 2002.
It seems Psiphon arrived at an ideal time to play citizen hacktivist.
"This is for the Iranian-Canadian who has dozens of cousins in Iran, who wants them to have free access to the Web," Deibert says. "It's for the Web user on either side of the world who believes strongly in free speech."
And free-speech software is about to get an upgrade. In September, the second version of Psiphon will be released, allowing users to get access to streaming media and Gmail.
Once again, Psiphon will be free to download, and free for overseas netizens to access with the permission of a trusted host.
Those who don't know anyone overseas but would like to help can find desperate users hungry to surf the Web on Psiphon's forums.
Now the question is who among us living in a democracy will offer a Web connection to those in restrictive nations?
It's a small act of selflessness that can open doors and Windows to frustrated Web wanderers.