If you live in somewhere like China, Thailand or Turkey them you’re probably already aware of the benefits of switching your IP address. These are just a few countries which extend their governmental control online by filtering and censoring what you can do or see online.
China has the most extensive and pervasive internet filters, usually described as the ‘ The Great Firewall of China’ , however there are many countries attempting to emulate this control across the world particularly by despotic regimes. Although it sounds trivial, the blocking of a few web sites usually ends up by extending to a vast list of unavailable sites. These are often legitimate sites and organisations which the ruling powers have deemed unsuitable – including social networking sites like Facebook where free speech is obviously encouraged.
Other times the blocks come from the destination site, for example if you try and access the US media site like Hulu to catch some Simpsons, you’ll get blocked it you have a non-US IP address. In fact most of the media sites across the world work on this basis, blocking all non-domestic addresses from accessing their content.
Sometimes this is genuinely depressing, for example the BBC News would be a fantastic source of impartial news in countries where there is a less than free press. However try and watch the BBC News Live or from the iPlayer site and you’ll get blocked from all these countries. I often think even if all the programmes are blocked then at least the news should be accessible across the world over the internet.
However the reality is that it is really available with some little effort and expense, by hiding your real location. The BBC site, like all other internet media and TV sites can be accessed if you hide your connection behind a server based in that country. For example to watch the BBC online from somewhere like China you just need to use a UK IP proxy to bounce your web requests through. Then when the BBC site looks at your IP address it will see the address of the server, which as it is based in the UK will register you as a UK user and the site will be fully functional.
In fact although this sounds slightly technical it is in fact very simple to do and it is estimated that over 60 million people access the BBC site ever week using proxies and VPNs to hide their real location (i.e. outside the UK). It is almost a farcical solution very much like the fact that Netflix had nearly quarter of a million Australian subscribers before the channels was supposedly even be accessible there.