It is not uncommon to be hit by a message similar to “this service/content isn’t available in your area” when you try to watch, say, a Netflix show. This phenomenon is called geo-blocking or geo-restriction – and it’s a global issue.
Let’s delve a little bit deeper.
Geo-restriction is a practice that companies use to block access to services and content, according to the user’s location. A perfect example would be Netflix US. If you’re trying to access it from another region, they’ll automatically redirect you to the content library that applies to your location.
Each time you access any website, they see where the request is coming from and can decide to either allow or reject it.
Any device connected to the internet has an IP address. When service providers determine your IP, they can reveal some details about you. Even if they can’t precisely pinpoint your location, they can still tell the region.
Geo-restrictions come into play because of licensing regulations as it concerns broadcasting content in every country. In acquiring licensing rights, content providers will have to part with a considerable sum of money.
Here are the different ways websites see your location:
- Via your IP address.
- Via Bluetooth or MAC address.
- Using your Wi-Fi connection’s location.
- Through the device’s GSM (2G) or CDMA (3G) cell ID.
- Via the GPS device.
- Through RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification).
Regardless of how they see your request and restrict content, you can unblock content by using the following approaches:
1. Use a Proxy
It is one of the most effective ways to access geo-blocked content. A proxy acts as an intermediary between the web and a small network, and it can mask your IP with ease. Its caching ability is also superb.
It is more like a shield that comes up when you activate it. A proxy helps to secure your data and keep you anonymous. By using this device, you can unblock that content that is not in your region.
It is important to note that you can configure your proxy to work, for example, with your browser, yet it does not impact any other app. It is perfect for streaming content or torrenting, especially with SOCKS5 proxies.
Using a proxy to access a geo-blocked content has different advantages:
- Your IP address remains hidden and out of the prying eyes of the website’s administrators.
- You have a higher level of privacy and security.
- It has an excellent cache system. It stores any visited website, and you can gain fast access when you visit the next time.
Any time you travel abroad, your best bet is a proxy. You can unblock restricted content and get protection to keep your information as safe as possible, especially while online.
2. Use Tor (The Onion Router)
Another means to conceal your IP to access geo-blocked content is by using Tor. It is a free-to-use service that keeps your IP address safe and out of the sight of website administrators every time you send data on the web. Your online traffic goes through multiple relays. Hence your digital footprint is out of sight.
However, Tor may not be reliable, even though it is useful when it comes to geo-restrictions. ISPs will block relays if they find out and you’ll barely enjoy decent connection speeds every time. Even the government can block Tor too.
3. Use a Smart DNS
A smart DNS will not hide your IP. What it does is it masks the DNS address that your ISP assigned to you – it also contains information about your geo-location. The service will replace your original DNS using a new one that directs to an “approved” geographical location.
More so, a Smart DNS can intercept your connection requests and remove any data linked to your geo-location. That said, it replaces the data using new information associated with your location where the content you wish to access is available.
A smart DNS does not encrypt your data. What it does is it reroutes the data associated with your location via another server. It does not even temper with your internet speed. But you may become vulnerable online due to there being no encryption.
4. The Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine does something interesting – it stores a copy of many websites on the web. It carries out this activity by saving multiple versions of a website, making it possible for you to access previous versions. Users can leverage this service to unblock a geo-restricted website. Again, this website has an array of free movies, nostalgic games, and a lot more.
Hiding your location is the best way to bypass geo-restrictions on the web. You can accomplish that by masking your IP address, which you can achieve by using a proxy and other means. Go for a provider that gives you the best of service and makes it seamless to unblock content.