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What is Geo blocking and how to bypass geo-restrictions?

Geo blocking

Whether you came across the terms ‘geo blocking’ (geoblock) or not, there is a high probability you have experienced it online, in the form of a blocked YouTube video, blocked website or limited streaming service. Learn more on how to bypass geo-restrictions.

What is geo blocking?

Geo-restrictions or geo blocking is the processes of limiting access to online content for some users based on their geographical location. This system is usually implemented by major companies and the reason behind it can be anything from competitive issues, licensing, copyright, price discrimination or blocking illegal or irrelevant content.

Using region restrictions, major companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu or HBO can limit access or set varying offers for their products depending on location and so, dividing the world into market segments.

How Geo-blocking works?

Many websites use different ways of blocking content intended for particular regions only granting access to those with a certain IP address. Google uses a lot of tracking methods like for example verifying that your device corresponds to a specific timezone.

Every device connected to the internet has a unique IP address allocated by the internet service providers. This address is used to determine the geolocation of the device. When your computer tries to access a server, its IP address is sent along with that request. This way the server knows where the said content needs to be sent. The data is then gathered into databases that map IP addresses, enforcing geo blocks. But that’s not the only way to block content intended for particular regions and some websites use more complex methods like for example verifying that your device corresponds to a specific timezone.

Types of geo blocks

There are several uses for geo restrictions like licensing and copyright, price discrimination, malicious traffic block, avoiding fraud or enforcing regional restrictions for online casinos and gambling websites.

Licensing and copyright

This happens when some license owners only have agreed rights to use certain content in a limited number of countries, if the content is produced for a specific target audience only or they want to target a specific region in order to drive revenue from advertising.

Sites like Amazon, Google Play Store, YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and so on, use the geo blocking technique to limit or restrict access to premium multimedia content due to licensing and copyright issues.

Blackouts

This is a form of temporary regional internet censorship used mainly to block viewers from accessing certain sporting events or political content. This happens for example during a political campaign or to protect a sports team’s home market.

Price discrimination

Many world famous online retailers use geo-blocking in order to offer different prices depending on the user’s location. This way some users can pay slightly more for the same products.

Gambling websites

Online gambling is subject to certain laws and regulations. In some countries gambling is considered illegal and all gambling sites are blocked.

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How to avoid geo-restrictions?

Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can avoid IP-related bans and they are available to anyone regardless of their location. Note that these methods are usually most effective in case of IP-associated blocks and will not particularly help in any other situation. Learn to bypass geo blocking by using the best solution for you. Here are the ways in which you can avoid geo-restrictions.

VPNs

VPNs (virtual private networks) are indeed the most popular method used to overcome geo blocking. Having servers all across the world, VPN providers can ‘trick’ websites into thinking that your IP is located in another region, giving you full access to content. Moreover, a VPN provides a high level of protection through encryption meaning that it will not only allow you to get around geo blocks but it will also secure your connection.

Proxies

An alternative to VPNs is using proxies. This technology prevents websites, messengers or other services from recognizing your actual IP address. This way, you can unblock traffic as the site communicates directly to a Proxy server and not your device. The disadvantages would be that the proxies do not offer protection by encryption and can be set on a limited number of apps and devices.

Smart DNS

Unlike VPNs, Smart DNS can be set on a larger number of devices, but only partially redirecting your Internet traffic. Basically, only the URLs revealing your location are changed while the rest of your Internet connection remains the same. A Smart DNS takes the data associated with a user’s geo-location and re-routes it through another server without reducing your internet speed. The downside is that the Smart DNS will not encrypt your traffic leaving you rather vulnerable online.

TOR

Another way in which you can conceal your whereabouts on the internet is ‘TOR’ – a free downloadable software program that works like a browser and hides your IP address every time you send or request data on the Internet. Tor uses high level encryption which means that your data is always protected online.

Bottom Line

Geo-blocking is one of the most common ways our internet is restricted around the world.
We live in the age of instant information where everything is just one click away and the free access to information is crucial and should be free. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and we have to always find the means that help us bypass online restrictions.

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