Geo-blocking is the practice of restricting your access to certain online content and media according to your geographical location. One of its primary uses is to prevent access to content or services that are considered illegal under local laws, such as gambling services and the like.
Another way it’s used is to fight against copyright infringement, e.g., Netflix and HBO Now, among others. The process is also used to enforce price discrimination, which shows users different prices based on which country they’re viewing the e-commerce website from.
It works when your computer’s Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is a unique numerical identifier that accompanies each device, sends a request to a particular service for access to its content. The IP address is then checked against a blacklist or whitelist to check if it came from a country that’s allowed to view the blog post, image, or video.
Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent geo-blocking issues for Australians by:
1. Using a VPN
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a tool that allows users to send and receive data across publicly accessible systems through a private network. When you run an app on your laptop, computer, or mobile phone through a VPN, you can view blocked content regardless of your geographical location.
When you visit a website, your computer directly taps into the Internet. This setup makes you vulnerable to prying eyes who want to monitor your browsing habits. With a VPN, your data is sent from your computer to the VPN server, which forwards the request to the Internet.
You can start with a free VPN for Australians with all the essential functions. However, if you feel like you require more features for your personal usage or business needs, then you can also opt to pay for the service.
Most VPN networks encrypt the data they send and receive to ensure users’ online security. This way, no one can quickly pinpoint your exact location and your online activities.
This is why using a VPN can help you circumvent geo-blocking issues whether you’re from Australia or other parts of the world. Here are other uses for VPNs:
- Accessing Personal Networks while Traveling – You can view your resources, whether for business or personal ones, while away from your office or home. This is especially useful for situations when you urgently need a particular file or document, and you don’t have physical access to the device storing it.
- Hiding Browsing Activities – VPNs protect the data you send over the Internet from other people, which is beneficial if you’re doing online banking through a coffee shop’s public Wi-Fi.
- Bypass Internet Censorship – Some countries impose heavy Internet censorship over its citizens. People can use VPNs to go around these regulations and access restricted content as well as websites.
2. Masking through Smart DNS
Another service is Smart DNS or Domain Name System, which replaces the DNS address that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to you because this information can include your geo-location. This protocol sends the acceptable DNS to the server and hides where you’re really accessing the website from.
Similar to VPNs, it also acts as an intermediary between your computer or device and Internet servers. The protocol intercepts connection requests and gets rid of data that can accidentally reveal your location.
These are the two primary benefits of using Smart DNS technology:
- Maintain Connection Speed – This protocol doesn’t route nor encrypt your connection, so it doesn’t affect its speed.
- Compatibility – Another significant advantage of using Smart DNS technology is that it can work with almost all devices. It also works with any connection, whether Wi-Fi or 3G and 4G mobile Internet.
3. Utilizing a Proxy Server
A proxy server also stands between your computer and the Internet servers. It acts as a gateway between your devices where your traffic flows from the server. They do more than forward your request, though. They can serve as a firewall and web filter to protect your data and personal network.
Most proxy servers are free. However, this can make you vulnerable to cyberattacks because they still end up operating as public servers, which anyone can access.
Geo-blocking falls into a gray area where both private users and corporations or governments can abuse it. As long as your intentions are clean and legal, you can bypass these restrictions through a VPN, Smart DNS, or proxy servers. These tools serve as intermediaries between your computer and web servers. Each has different advantages and disadvantages so you should research the best one that suits your needs and preferences.