A browser that bypasses internet censors has become the most popular way to access the Internet in Kazakhstan, a Central Asian state
where sites critical of the government are often blocked.
The Norwegian developed Opera browser made by Opera Software has increased its market share sharply in the ex-Soviet state since it began to allow downloads of compressed web pages via a server outside the country, a feature designed to speed browsing.
The Opera browser is now the most popular in the country with a market share of 32%, beating out rival products from Google, Microsoft and Apple, according to statistics for March from Web analytics firm StatCounter.
The new version of Opera introduced last year, Opera 10, allows users to view otherwise inaccessible Web pages using its Opera Turbo feature designed to speed up browsing over slow connections.
Kazakhstan introduced a law last year allowing local courts to block access to Web sites whose content has been deemed illegal, a step that human rights groups say amounts to censorship.
Some of the most popular blogging websites such as Livejournal.com and Google-run Blogger.com are now inaccessible to most of Kazakhstan's 3.2 million Internet users.