Understanding what geo-blocked content is and ways to access it
If you live in the US or the UK, it may be hard for you to understand the frustration of being unable to access content in other parts of the world that are readily available to you. Be it using proxy servers or VPN for the UK citizens,you may never worry about accessing geo-blocked content but your counterparts in several other countries may not be that lucky or aware of such solutions to tide over content restrictions or geo-blocking.
You may not believe it but that’s what happens in several
countries across the globe such as in China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar,
and many more. From blocking social media, torrents, and political media to
limiting access to some specific sites, people in these countries can no longer
think of the World Wide Web as being freely and easily accessible to them.
The problem isn’t just limited to such censorship on the
internet. There are many regions where internet access is still pretty limited.
According to a 2017 article in the Telegraph, UK, fewer than one in five residents
of the 35 countries can access the internet owing to a lack of infrastructure.
Some of the countries that featured on this list are Honduras, Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Senegal, El Salvador, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Cote
d’Ivoire, Benin, Sudan, Libya, Eritrea, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, D.R.
Congo, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, and Myanmar,
Why it’s important to be able to access geo-blocked content?
You may ask why it is so important to access restricted or geo-blocked
content.There are several reasons
with different levels of importance and urgency but the basic premise of all
remains the same – the decision to watch, read or access content should lie
with the individuals and not get decided or guided by some other organization
or the state or the national government. Here are some reasons that make access
to geo-blocked content necessary:
Educational tasks: Be it a school or college project for students, creating course work and having reference material that the teachers may need, getting an idea of the educational system or curriculum of peers at other parts of the world, free access to the internet becomes important for educational purposes.
Research work: For research in various fields – IT, science, communication and transportation, retail, medicine, etc. you will need access to certain facts and figures that can help you arrive at a decision or even plan your own course of work. Unless you can freely access whatever you need on the internet, your research work is sure to run into trouble.
Entertainment: Be it accessing content on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or other streaming platforms that aren’t available in your region, or getting your hands on a new video game that’s released in some other part of the world days or months before it comes to your region, entertainment is a big reason why people try to get easy access to geo-blocked content.
Staying updated on the world and regional happenings: National governments in some countries often stop access to local or international news that they believe could trigger violence or unrest in the country, or the ones that show them in poor light. However, as a global citizen, you need to be aware of such incidents that are getting the spotlight everywhere else in the world.
Topways to access geo-blocked content
VPN – the best of the
It’s probably the most popular and best option to access
content that is blocked in your own country because it lets your traffic pass
through an encrypted connection and you come out on the other side of the
tunnel. Say, you are based in China and want to access US-based services (such
as a particular Wikipedia page, or a program on Netflix, or a specific article
published in a US Journal), you would need to use a US-based server that has adequate
upload and download bandwidth to suit your needs. And that’s where a VPN can
When you use a VPN, your real IP address stays hidden as
your VPN replaces it with the IP address of the VPN server you connect to. This
makes any website that you want to connect to (such as US or UK-based sites or
steaming services, etc.) see just the VPN server’s IP address and take it as
yours. Thus, you will be able to get easy access to content that isn’t
otherwise available in your region. However, you should ideally opt for a paid
VPN because the ones promising free services often work very slowly or restricts
your use up to a specific amount of bandwidth, which may hinder your work or
You may even explore some other options to bypass internet
censorship and access geo-blocked content. These include using a smart DNS, or
a proxy server, or Tor.