The word Geo-restriction is not new to internet users. It can be simply described as the process of limiting or restricting content based on a user’s geographic location.
For example, when you access Netflix US from another location, you receive an error saying “the service/content isn’t available in your area.”
Similarly, when you visit an e-commerce website that is not directly operating from your region may restrict your access.
Content providers and websites with strict copyright regulations often impose geo-blocks. There are various reasons for imposing geo-blocks and techniques to break it. This blog is here to explain all that so be sure to read through the end.
Why is Geo-Blocking encouraged?
Geo-blocks are encouraged by the major content providers to ensure that the content is only available to the legal right holders.
For example, if a media company releases its content in one country then the company has to purchase licensing from that country. Similarly, every content provider has to purchase licensing rights before publishing content.
Buying worldwide licensing is an expensive process therefore; countries restrict access to legal locations only.
Geo-blocks are also imposed by the government if they find that any specific content is not complying with the policies or religious values of a country.
Mostly, you can experience geo-restrictions with sports events. It occurs when a particular country holds exclusive distribution rights or the event is supposed to broadcast locally.
How does Geo-Blocking work
Each of your devices that you use to communicate through the internet has its own IP address that is also known as the internet protocol address.
Your device’s IP address is assigned by the internet service provider, and hence ISP knows it.
As soon as you browse a website, your IP address is delivered to the webserver to analyze the location where the content is supposed to be transmitting.
Alone IP address is not enough. Websites use specialized software that helps to identify the users’ behavior and frequently visited websites.
Such software also enables websites to know the geographical location of your device and hence, a website successfully identifies the location/country from which you are accessing it.
Based on your device’s location, the web-administrator imposes geo-blocks. Bear in mind that geo-blocking is also applicable during traveling.
For example, if you are from France and visiting America, then you will only access American content. You will need a France VPN server to access content from France.
Is Geo-Blocking Legal?
It varies from country to country and services to services. For example, some companies do not mind specific services to be offered out of the region.
Similarly, streaming sites like Netflix seriously consider geo-blocking as an illegal act of violating licensing regulations. They also use different techniques to identify and block tools that get around geo-restrictions.
How to circumvent Geo-Restrictions
When you are on the internet, your location may be caught up by your IP address. If you successfully hide your IP address then it’s possible to bypass geo-restrictions.
There are different methods to do that among which the most popular I am outlining below:
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPNs are considered as the most trusted way of bypassing geo-blocks. A VPN masks your real IP address and assigns you a new IP address of the VPN server that you’re connected to. When you use a VPN, any site that you access will only see your VPN assigned IP instead of your original IP address.
For example, if you are from Canada, but connected to the USA VPN server, every site that you visit will assume that you are accessing it from the USA.
It is important to mention that a VPN might slow down your speed since it encrypts all your traffic while transmitting it over the internet.
A proxy acts as an intermediary between a specific network and the web. Proxy services are frequently used worldwide to circumvent geo-restrictions because they are able to hide the user’s IP address.
Proxy also comprises a special feature that saves your visited websites and enables you to re-visit saved websites faster.
The only downside is that proxy services are not secure. They contain malicious ads and bandwidth is also limited. Moreover, in case, if you’re using a proxy with HTTP connections still the proxy owner can monitor your original IP address.
Smart DNS Service
Smart DNS service doesn’t hide your IP address but replaces the ISP-assigned DNS address that shows your geo-location to the websites.
Smart DNS service assigns you a new DNS that indicates an approved geo-location. The service also smartly removes connection requests and data that link with your original geo-location.
It replaces old data with new information that matches the location where your desired content is accessible.
There is no encryption involved, smart DNS simply takes your data that reveals your real location and replaces it with new information that matches with the new location without delaying speed.
TOR (The Onion Router)
TOR is an open-source free service that hides the user IP address when they make a request. It passes your internet traffic from various nodes. Your data is covered with heavy-duty encryption that ensures that everything is layered with privacy protection. However, TOR can be blocked by the Government or ISPs when found.
There are different ways through which you can bypass geo-restrictions. One of the best ways is VPN. It can be easily connected without any technical knowledge plus, it protects your network with strong encryption.
Other than VPNs, smart DNS is also a more secure option than TOR and proxy services. Always try to stick to a solution that encrypts your connection and protects you from threats like malware.