It is not uncommon for websites to restrict access to their content. For instance, Disney Plus is available in North America, Latin America, Australia, Europe, and some countries in Asia but is not available in vast swaths of Africa. Similarly, depending on their geographical location, Netflix displays different content to disparate users. This can be frustrating and may feel discriminatory. However, this article will discuss three proven ways to bypass this practice.
What is Geo-Blocking?
Also known as geo-restriction, geo-blocking is the practice by which businesses block access to their websites’ content based on visitors’ respective geographical locations. It is commonplace in the current information age, with websites such as streaming services notorious for propagating the practice.
What are the Reasons for Geo-Blocking?
Businesses propagate geo-blocking because of a number of reasons, including:
1. Government-backed internet censorship
Some dictatorial regimes often champion internet censorship to close their citizens off from the rest of the world. Therefore, it is not uncommon for residents of such nations to be unable to access certain popular websites.
Streaming and live sports platforms restrict their content because of licensing agreements entered with the intellectual property owners.
3. Maximize profits
Some businesses use geo-restrictions as a form of market segmentation, this time using geographical boundaries as the basis. This allows them to maximize profits by only targeting nations whose citizens have a considerable amount of disposable income or high internet penetration.
4. Illegal practices
There are websites that display pirated or unauthorized content. In other instances, some sites sell counterfeit products. Thus, in order to cover their tracks, such sites usually restrict access to the content.
Reasons for Bypassing Geo-Restrictions
Nonetheless, businesses and individuals often seek to bypass geo-blocking. This is due to a number of reasons, including:
- Research on new markets;
- Unearth sites that sell or display counterfeit products or pirated content;
- Access certain content;
- Protect online identity as bypassing geo-blocking involves using tools such as a US proxy that assigns you a US IP address, effectively making it appear as though you are in the US;
- Get the lowest price: some websites price their services differently based on their users’ geographical location. Thus, you can bypass geo-blocking to get the lowest price.
How to Bypass Geo-Blocking
If these reasons appeal to you and your needs, there are three main tools you can use to bypass geo-blocking:
1. Proxy Servers
A proxy server or proxy is an intermediary that routes internet traffic through itself before forwarding them to the target. In the process, it conceals certain information associated with the outgoing requests, such as the IP address, and assigns replacement addresses. This way, proxy servers hide the users’ real online identity and act as the originator of the requests and terminator of the server responses.
Proxy servers enable you to bypass geo-blocking by changing your IP address. For instance, if you are in Indonesia and want to access US-only content, you can use a US proxy (view site). This proxy server will assign you a US-based IP address, effectively making it appear like you are in the United States. The US proxy is successful in such a use case because IP addresses store location information such as the city, state, country, and even approximate coordinates. Thus, when a web server receives request headers that contain a US-based IP address, it automatically assumes the requests originate from a US-based visitor and will not block access to the content.
2. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
A virtual private network (VPN) is a solution that creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between a user’s computer (on which a VPN application has been installed) and a VPN server (exit node) located in a different country. All traffic routed through the tunnel is encrypted, with the outgoing requests acquiring the exit node’s IP address. To put it simply, the VPN masks the real IP address and assigns a different IP. As a result, the requests appear to originate from the exit node rather than the user’s computer. Therefore, a VPN user can bypass geo-blocking by selecting an exit node in a country where access to content has not been restricted.
3. Tor browser
Tor browser is a web browser that uses the Tor network to mask online identity and anonymize your web activity and traffic. The Tor network comprises a series of nodes (servers) through which the internet traffic is routed before exiting at an exit node. As a result, the outgoing requests acquire the exit node’s IP address. If the exit node is located in a country where websites have not blocked access to their content, then the Tor browser becomes a tool you can use to bypass geo-restrictions.
Geo-blocking can be frustrating to visitors who are locked out of certain online content. It can even feel discriminatory and may block businesses from undertaking important operations such as brand protection and market research. Fortunately, individuals and businesses can use VPNs, the Tor browser, or proxy servers, such as the US proxy, to circumvent the restrictions.