So, you want to bypass internet censorship? Today, those with restricted access to the internet have many cheap or free methods to choose from including VPNs and Web Proxies but access to the world wide web wasn't always as ubiquitous.

Let's go back in time to 1989-91. During this time, Tim Berners-Lee with the help of others proposed the WorldWideWeb and implemented the first web server. He also published the first website ever, which can still be accessed in its original glory at CERN.

Birth of email gateways

When the web was still in its infancy, few people had direct access to it. Many more had access to email and web to email gateways were common. These email gateways bridged the gap between those with access to only email and institutions with access to the world wide web. Many of the original email gateways were run by universities and research institutions. Eventually, as more people got access to the web, email gateways became unnecessary and were shut down. [1]


Some email gateways survived into the late '90s and early 2000s as tools for people living or working in developing countries that might not have stable internet connections due to slow satellite internet access. There are still a few email gateways that that operate on freemium model, where free use is restricted and premium (less restrictive) use costs a few bucks a month.

Advantages and Disadvantages

We at believe that email gateways are a great method to use to bypass the filternet. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using email gateways.

Five advantages of using email gateways over other methods to bypass the filternet.

  1. Free - There is more than one email gateway that operates on a freemium model [2]
  2. Very difficult to censor - All email providers must be filtered or blocked
  3. Pages are saved - Great for reading news articles
  4. Easy to use - Most people have used email before
  5. Unstable internet connections are OK - requested pages can be stored on the email server

Five disadvantages of using email gateways versus other methods to bypass the filternet.

  1. Latency - it is much slower compared to a directly accessing a website
  2. Complex web pages won't work No Javascript or Flash for you!
  3. Video cannot be sent - your Email provider probably has maximum file size limits
  4. Security is an afterthought - Email is not secure and is most likely sent unencrypted
  5. Not many email gateways exist today - You can, however, build and customize your own [3]

1: Lists of defunct Email Gateways

2: Currently active Email Gateways

3: Email Gatway Server Software

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