January 23, 2021

Not Available In Your Region? A guide to Geoblocks

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By Dan Martin From LinkDoctor

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You may have tried to access some content on the internet. The response you get is, the content is not available in your region. It is especially common with regards to streaming services. Netflix, ABC iView, and BBC iPlayer, for example, will restrict content depending on geographical location.  

Let’s go into an in-depth understanding of accessing content not available in your region. We will do this by providing a guide to geoblocks.  

Geo-Blocking, What Is It, And Who Uses It? 

Think of a geoblock as a gate, that when shut, denies access to website content depending on the user’s location. Your IP address is the biggest giveaway to your location. When you type in a content request, your server sends your IP address together with the request. Think of it like sending a letter with your physical address on it.  

The remote server can pinpoint your location with a high level of accuracy using your IP address. Profile information and ping measures will also reveal where you are geographically.  

As an internet user, geo-blocking can be very inconvenient. However, companies may block access to specific content to protect intellectual property. Only those who the company deems fit to see the information will access it.  

The company can control information flow and access to it. It provides security, especially for digital content. It is, therefore, a worthwhile investment. 

Geo-blocking is also important if a company is rolling out a product. They can sample a smaller population before going into the mass market.  

Governments may also use geo-blocking as a form of censorship. Some countries will not allow certain content into their countries. Such could include things like gambling and pornography. Others are particular entertainment material like music or specific movies.  

Geofilters allow them to keep out such, sometimes without the citizenry even knowing that it is happening. Geo-blocking does not always necessarily mean a total block. You may get special access or a redirect to another site. 

Businesses operating in the online platforms may also apply geo-blocking. It helps with taxation issues where the company has customers from different countries. Unfortunately, some critics have taken advantage of geoblocks. Some will charge a higher price depending on location.  

Gambling services may also use geoblocks in countries where they cannot legally operate. It helps them keep the content away from areas they cannot make money from.  

Geo-blocking is also critical for copywriting and Licensing protection purposes. Some people will look for ways to circumvent the restrictions around content use. This situation is challenging to control in the digital space.   

Circumventing Geoblocks

The legality of geo-blocking is a topic of discussion in some countries. The council of the European Union sees it as discriminatory. It is therefore not legal within the EU.   

There is something very enticing about circumventing geoblocks, though. By denying access due to geographical location, it only whets people’s appetite for it more.   

There are methods you can use to circumvent geoblocks. Such include:-

  •  Use of a Proxy Server

 A proxy server is an intermediate between you and the remote server. It filters traffic so that you avoid harmful content on your site. It also allows you to shield or block your IP address. 

The use of SOCKS proxy, for example, will change your IP address. The proxy has its own IP through which it will route your requests. The remote server will not be able to identify your location because it cannot see your address. 

It helps hide your location and allows you to get  content that may otherwise not be accessible to you. In this way, you can maintain anonymity and privacy while online.   

Do note, however, the proxy provider will be able to see your IP address.  

  • Use of a VPN

VPNs provide encryption for your data and will hide your location. Your request goes through private networks that do not expose your IP address. Many have servers in different countries, allowing you to change your location easily.   

However, companies like Netflix have caught onto the game. They have VPN detectors that are proving to be very useful. Even with a VPN detector, you may still get a proxy error message from Netflix. So, when shopping for a VPN, ensure it can bypass such restrictions.

  •  Use of Plugins and Extensions

Plugins like Hola will allow you to bypass the geographical content restriction. The plugin works on Mac, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and windows.  

It is also available on Android apps. You get access to platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Fox, CBS, and BBC iPlayer.  

The peer-to-peer technology-based platform is free, and it works much like a proxy server. When you type in your request, it goes through the Hola client, which then roots it to the remote server.  

The use of Tor is another way to bypass geographical restrictions.  It is a browser that gives you access to all the other websites. You get anonymity but not the security you will get with a VPN. You may also experience slow speeds. Your best bet would be to partner it with a proxy for better functionality.  

  • Use of Domain Name System (DNS) Changers or Smart DNS 

A DNS provides an easy way to identify sites.  What you see, for example, is Google instead of a sequence of numbers. When you use a smart DNS or changer, your location changes to one in a different country.   

Please note, using DNS to circumvent geoblocks has its disadvantages. You do not get data encryption, and it does not hide your IP address. 

Final Thoughts

There are pros and cons to geo-blocking. Governments and companies can use it to protect intellectual property. For a business, it makes sense because they need to make money. Having people access material for free can result in losses.   

However, some people may have reservations about restricting access to content. For them, an individual should be able to choose what to consume  

We have looked at geo-blocking and what it means for you as an individual. We have also shared with you ways to circumvent it. Whichever method you use, please do your research first to determine its efficacy. 

SOURCE: https://linkdoctor.io/

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