Bypassing geoblocking allows you to access websites, apps, services, and content that would otherwise be unavailable. VPNs (virtual private networks) are the best way to bypass geoblocking as they enable users to spoof their location by connecting to a remote server. Millions of users around the world already bypass geoblocking by using a VPN to expand their streaming services’ content library, save money on online purchases, or access websites from within restrictive countries. But is using a VPN to bypass geoblocking legal?
The short answer is: it depends on your location. In most countries, VPNs are completely legal and perfectly acceptable to use, whereas in others, VPN usage is regulated or banned. It also depends on what you’re using a VPN for, as participating in an illegal activity when using a VPN is still illegal. This can include pirating copyrighted content or accessing dark web marketplaces. Keep reading to discover the legality of VPN usage and find out if it’s legal to bypass geoblocking in your country!
Bypass geoblocking with NordVPN* now!
Bypass geoblocking with NordVPN* now!
What is geoblocking?
Geoblocking is technology that restricts users’ access to online content based on their geographical location. This generally occurs as a result of copyright laws and licensing agreements, as streaming services are often restricted to broadcasting content in designated countries.
Geoblocking is typically enforced by first determining a users’ location through their IP address. An IP (Internet Protocol) address consists of a unique string of numbers and allows information to be sent between devices on a network. IP addresses are a set of four numbers separated by periods and can range from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. Everyone using the internet has an IP address assigned to their devices by their ISP. If you don’t know what your IP is, then you can find out here.
As you can see, your IP address pinpoints your exact location which is how online services can identify where you’re accessing their website from. If you have a UK IP address, for example, then Netflix will show you their UK-specific library whenever you access their site or app. If then you travel to, say, France, then your IP address will change and the content available to you on Netflix will differ.
Geoblocking is a common occurrence on the internet and can restrict users from accessing all sorts of content, websites, and services. Some streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, and Hulu will also completely block users from certain countries, meaning all their content is restricted by geoblocking. In other cases, services or websites alter their libraries based on the user’s location due to copyright agreements.
How do VPNs allow me to bypass geoblocking?
VPN (virtual private network) providers have servers based all around the world that can be instantly connected to. When you connect to a VPN server, your internet traffic is secured in an encrypted tunnel and travels through the server before reaching your desired website or app. As the remote VPN server acts as the source of your traffic, its IP address will temporarily replace your own which will be completely hidden from any website, app, or service that you visit.
With this in mind, if you want to bypass geoblocking then a VPN allows you to spoof your location by connecting to a server that’s located elsewhere. For example, if you live anywhere in, say Europe, but you want to access BBC iplayer (which is only available in the UK) then you can simply connect to a UK-based VPN server. After your traffic is encrypted by the VPN and rerouted through the server, you’ll appear to be accessing the internet from within the UK. You can then head to BBC iPlayer or any other geoblocked streaming service and trick them into thinking you’re accessing their content locally.
This trick works for all geoblocked services, websites, and apps regardless of which country you’re in. Even if you’re in a restrictive country, you can still install and use a VPN to spoof your location and bypassing geoblocking. Bypassing geoblocking with a VPN allows you to stream content from other countries and even save money when making online purchases
The legality of using VPNs to bypass geoblocking
With VPNs becoming increasingly popular, not only to bypass geoblocking, but to also protect users’ privacy and increase their online safety, various countries have taken different approaches towards the technology. If you intend to use a VPN for whatever reason, you should make sure that you’re informed of the VPN laws in your area.
Countries where VPNs are currently restricted include China, Oman, UAE, Egypt, and Turkey. Many VPN providers are completely inaccessible in these countries, so users are advised to install a VPN app before entering the area if they want to bypass these restrictions. VPNs are illegal in North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Belarus, and Russia. Using a VPN in these countries can lead to hefty fines and even jail time.
Outside of these areas, VPN usage is completely legal (although there may be a few exceptions that we’ve missed out!). If you live in the US or Europe, then you’ll probably have no trouble concerning the law when using a VPN. Keep in mind though, that if you intend to use a VPN to participate in an illegal activity such as pirating copyrighted content or accessing the dark web, then you are still committing a crime regardless of your VPN usage.
When it comes to bypassing geoblocking, laws vary between countries. According to The Journal of the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property, there is currently legislation or case law specifically outlawing the use of geoblocking circumvention methods. However, bypassing geoblocking can constitute a violation of a content provider’s Terms of Service (TOS).
For example, Netflix’s TOS document states that “You may access the Netflix content primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such content”. Despite Netflix and similar services stating that bypassing geoblocking to watch restricted content can result in termination of their service, there are very few known cases of this happening.
What is the best VPN for bypassing geoblocking?
If you want to use a VPN to bypassing geoblocking then you need a provider that has a wide network of servers, advanced security measures, and high performance. Here is the VPN that we recommended the most for bypassing geoblocking in 2022 –
NordVPN is a versatile, reliable, and affordable VPN that can enable you to swiftly bypass geoblocking from almost any country in the world. This VPN has an easy-to-use app/client, so even first-time VPN users can connect to a server and spoof their location without any unnecessary hassle.
With over 5300 servers across 60 countries, no matter where you are, you can access online websites and services using NordVPN. These servers are also lightning-fast, so you won’t have to experience any buffering when streaming or lag when gaming. To speed up your browser speeds even more, you can make use of NordVPN’s built-in ad blocker, CyberSec. CyberSec will automatically block any autoplay, banners, or video ads before they even load on your browser, saving you precious mobile data and significantly reducing your browser’s page loading times.
Aside from ad-blocking technology, NordVPN also employs several other useful security measures on top of its military-grade AES-256 encryption. These features include dedicated IP, MFA, private DNS with leak protection, and a kill switch. NordVPN also has a strict no-logs policy that has been independently audited, proving that the provider never collects, monitors, or shares sensitive user data.
If you live in a highly censored or restrictive country then you’ll benefit from NordVPN’s specialised obfuscated servers. These servers conceal your VPN usage so not even your ISP or government agencies can see that you’re encrypting your traffic using a VPN. NordVPN also has split tunnelling support which allows you to select which of your traffic is rerouted through the server whilst the reach accesses the internet directly. Using this feature, you can unblock streaming servers, for instance, whilst still browsing the rest of the web locally.
NordVPN is available on all major operating systems including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. The app is also compatible with popular smart TVs such as Amazon Fire TV Stick as well as Chromecast, Raspberry Pi, and Kindle Fire. Users are allowed up to 6 simultaneous connections but can also connect the VPN on their router to protect every single device under their home network. So, you and your entire family can bypass geoblocking at the same time to enjoy content from around the world.
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