What is geo-restriction
Geo-restriction or geo-blocking is a method to restrict or limit the access of specified content based on user’s geographic location.
Average internet users usually encounter geo-restrictions on a daily basis while trying to access streaming platforms as they allow different content for different countries.
Additionally, governments implement geo-restriction technologies to block sites or specific online services.
How does geo-blocking work
All of your devices on the internet have their unique series of numbers called an Internet Protocol address (known as ‘IP address’). Your laptop, phone, and each device connected to the internet have IPs, which are provided by your internet service provider (ISP). Therefore, your ISP knows your IP address.
When you visit a website, the IP address of your network is sent to the server so it knows where it has to send the content.
Although your IP address is not significant on its own, using specialized software, it is possible to track your online behavior effortlessly, monitor which websites you visit and when.
Also, to some extent, it is possible to know the geographical location of your device. This is how a site ‘knows’ from which country you are accessing.
Then, website administrators apply geo-blocking based on this information. For example, if you live in the UK, some of Youtube’s content isn’t available to you due to copyright infringement.
Moreover, geo-blocking applies when traveling. Meaning, if you are an American visiting France, you will only access the content available in France.
Reasons for geo-blocking
- Copyright and licensing
- Irrelevant content
- Illegal content
- Control of malicious traffic
Is bypassing geo-blocking legal
The legality of getting around geo-restrictions is unclear and varies by country. In the European Union, some forms of geo-blocking are illegal. Companies are not allowed to discriminate against consumers based on their location for online sales of specific services.
However, streaming platforms, such as Netflix, claim that bypassing geo-blocking can be considered as a violation of copyright and licensing regulations, they also justify the use of methods to detected and block various anonymizer services, like VPNs.
To learn more about the legality of geo-blocking and bypassing geo-blocking, click here.
How is geo-blocking related to censorship
Some of the internet activists declare all kinds of geo-blocking as a form of discrimination. Because the internet was built on ideas of freedom, they believe, limiting content to any extent is, in a way, an act of censorship.
However, the most damaging part of geo-restriction is when authoritarian governments order to block, filter or websites and services that are not politically correct and oppose the government in any way.
Although censorship might seem like something done by oppressive governments, the scope of it has been increasing alarmingly in many democratic countries. According to researchers from the University of Cambridge, more than 60 countries engage in some form of state-sponsored censorship. To learn more about internet censorship, click here.
How can I access the free and open internet
There are tools to get around geo-restrictions, VPNs are the most common and, usually, easy to use for a less tech-savvy audience. While using a VPN service, you can quickly change your location and have unrestricted and fast access to any website. You can choose your desired location, or let us offer an optimal choice for you.
Virtual private network (VPN) is a private, controlled network. It creates a virtual tunnel, where your data is encrypted so that no one can track or monitor your online activities.
VPN masks your actual IP address and allocates you with one from your chosen country. For instance, if you are in the USA, you can quickly select a remote VPN server in Japan, the website will think you are accessing it from Japan.
VPNs also help to bypass government-induced censorship. In this case, VPNs not only help to achieve internet freedom but also – to fully secure your data from the prying eyes of snoopers.
What do I do to enjoy unrestricted internet
You can get Surfshark VPN, which has all of the features of a robust VPN service but is also super easy to use for anyone – despite the level of your technical background.
- Sign up for your Surfshark account and choose a pricing plan;
- Download and log in
- Choose a virtual location
- Enjoy internet freedom