What is geo-blocking? It’s the practice of restricting access to online content based on your location. These restrictions in most cases apply to international borders.
Online media companies and streaming services such as Netflix use geo-blocking to comply with licensing deals and other regulations. So, is geo-blocking legal? Licensing agreements govern how users can access streaming services and content. This is perfectly legal.
Certain countries use geo-blocking to block access to websites that promote activities deemed to be illegal such as online gambling. Some internet service providers can also use geo-blocking to throttle your internet. They do this as part of their traffic shaping strategy in managing bandwidth and mitigating traffic congestion on their network.
Geo-blocking is also used for less benign purposes. Some governments use it to block websites that they don’t want their citizens to access. Some online retailers like Amazon also use it to force people to use the local version of their website. This can charge users higher prices compared to those listed in other countries.
How To Avoid Geo-Blocking When Accessing Websites
Geo-blocking is very common for international users. You may want to access a website or stream video material but geo-blocking can prevent you from doing that.
Note that users in some countries are privileged because their governments allow access to restricted content. You will, however, have to deal with geo-restrictions at least once and we understand how frustrating this can be.
That’s the reason why we want you to understand that there are effective ways in which you can successfully get around this. Read on to understand some of these solutions.
- Use a Proxy Server
A proxy server is a basic solution for bypassing geo-restrictions. It enables you to anonymously browse the internet by routing your web requests and traffic.
To your recipient server, your traffic will appear to be coming from their proxy server. That’s because your real IP will have been masked and your location is hidden. Apart from helping you to get past the geo-blocked restrictions, proxies also guarantee your privacy and anonymity.
Based on where the video that you want to watch is, you can get a proxy server from that location. Assuming that the video is available in Japan, you can get a Japan proxy server and connect to it. By the way, you can easily find a lot of free proxy servers online.
Keep in mind that although a proxy server can effectively bypass geo-blocking restrictions, it may not be effective in bypassing high-level geo-blocking as a VPN would. Also, unlike VPNs, proxy servers can’t encrypt your traffic. As such, you won’t be able to benefit from the same level of security and online protection. This can make you vulnerable to cyber security attacks.
- Use a Reliable VPN Service
The virtual private network service is a reliable solution when it comes to accessing geo-blocked content. It works like a charm when it comes to the “you’re not allowed to watch this video” geo-blocked restrictions.
Remember that you’re usually geo-blocked on a geographical basis. That’s because your location can be identified with the help of your IP address. But when connected to a VPN server, the IP address gets masked.
A new IP address is then assigned to you based on the location of the server. You will, however, need to check where the specific content is available. Once you’ve identified the location, you can then connect to a server in that country.
The use of a VPN comes with great benefits. Apart from helping you circumvent geo-restrictions, it also routes traffic via a secure tunnel. This is enabled with the help of powerful encryption features and VPN protocols. It helps users to benefit from complete online anonymity and security.
Nobody can tell where you go or what you’re doing on the internet. You can also be sure that your personal information and sensitive data are protected at all times. As such, you can be sure that spying, cybersecurity, tracking, and surveillance are a thing of the past.
- Use a Smart DNS Service
A smart DNS service works in combination with a proxy server and a DNS server. If you want to access a certain website, a DNS takes care of routing your requests via a proxy server.
Based on the location of the proxy server, a smart DNS will trick the content provider into thinking that you’re connecting from the location’s proxy server. You must, however, note that you’ll need to check in advance the identity of the location of the content that you want to access.
A smart DNS is different from a proxy. That’s because the smart DNS does not change a user’s actual IP address. It neither masks your IP address nor does it encrypt your traffic.
As far as geo-blocking is concerned, a smart DNS is effective in helping you circumvent it. It’s also known to effectively work with popular streaming services as it doesn’t provide encryption. This is important as you’ll not experience any speed loss.
- Tor Browser
This is another strategy that you can use to bypass geo-restricted content. A Tor browser is a specialized browser that connects to the Tor network. This is a series of nodes that work together in hiding your online activities, by routing your connection between them and your destination website.
The Tor network makes use of onion routing. This is where user information is kept anonymous through multiple layers of encryption. The problem with this is that it slows down the internet connection. That’s because extra time is required to go through the extra layers.
We agree that geo-blocking errors can be circumvented using a proxy server, a smart DNS, or a VPN. Being the typical geo-blocking error, any of the services are effective in bypassing them and accessing content. You should, therefore, be able to watch a video, for instance, by configuring your device to use any of the discussed methods.
If you face geo-blocking issues while using an Android or an iPhone, you should know that ExpressVPN is compatible with both systems. We must also mention that VPN services are a great option. That’s because they come with great security and privacy features.
A VPN guarantees you security and a private online experience. But, whatever service you go for, make sure that you’re receiving it from a reputable provider.
Finally, history tells us that what is legal is not necessarily moral. But that’s a topic of discussion on another day. We might also agree that censorship can’t be justified. But, you now have a strong primer on what geo-blocking is and how to handle it.