VPNs: Overcoming Internet’s Limitations

A concise definition of the internet is as follows: “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocol.” What sticks in mind in this definition is the internet’s omnipresence. Even though we know that only 48 percent of people living in the world have access to the internet, we still expect to stay most of the time online whenever we go. Comforted by the internet’s boundlessness, we do not think of adjusting our internet surfing habits when we travel abroad. Unless we fly to Eritrea or Vietnam, we think we can continue accessing our favorite websites or searching engines or watching our most-liked shows once we leave our country and go on vacation.

Lulled into a false sense of security by the internet’s ubiquity, we become unpleasantly surprised if abroad we lose access to our usual content. For all its globality, the internet does carry with itself geographical restrictions that we start feeling as soon as we cross the borders of our country. As many travelers have surely discovered, one does not need to go to the distant corners of the world to start experiencing limitations on the internet. It might be enough to fly to the United States from the United Kingdom, for example, to become unable to watch one’s favorite British series – The Crown or The Stranger Things – on Netflix, Sky Go, ITV hub, and Channel 4.

In the space below, we are explaining why some content on Netflix gets blocked when people move to a different region. We are also discussing other notorious cases when access to certain websites is denied in various countries by their local cybersecurity. In the article’s conclusion, we are suggesting that the best way to bypass the geographical or security restrictions that prevent us from enjoying the internet to the full is to install a Virtual Private Network software. We are not advising what VPN to use, but those of you who indeed cannot watch abroad their favorite series on BBC iPlayer are welcome to learn what VPNs for watching UK TV can save them from this predicament.

Netflix

When people cross borders of one region and enter another, they immediately start feeling geographical restrictions that Netflix imposes on the content they can watch. Suddenly, movies and shows that they have been watching in their home country become unavailable for viewing once they move out of its frontiers. But the truth is that you do not need to travel to experience Netflix’s geographical restrictions. The company is notorious for its unfair distribution of content among its clients. Residents of different countries get different package deals for which they pay different amounts of money.

If you are situated, say, in Japan, you pay only $5.86 a month for 6,000 shows and movies; that is, each Netflix title costs in Japan as little as $0.0010. Turkish people pay as little as $3.27 a month for the library consisting of 705 titles. This is about 60 percent cheaper than the price people pay in the United Kingdom, where residents pay $7.87 a month for the collection of 5230 movies and shows. The worst deal gets Denmark. Netflix costs here $12.37 a month. No wonder, then, that people resist such inequality and want to watch more movies for a lower price by trying to access Netflix’s either American library or Japanese library with the help of VPNs.

Trips to Countries with Cybersecurity

When people travel to countries with heavy censorship of the internet, their online experience becomes even worse, negatively affecting their overall impression of the places they visit. On the list of these countries are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, and the UAE, among others. These counties might be the most popular among tourists, but their internet censorship is so rigid that accessing the most neutral content in these regions becomes impossible.

Take Dubai, for example. The UAE government blocks any content deemed offensive to the country’s religion, ethics, and morality. Try as you might, you will not be able to land on any gambling, pornographic, or anti-religious websites, while you are in the country. Even less convenient is that you will not be able to read articles on Wikipedia or call your friends through the Skype from Dubai. Both Wikipedia and Skype have long been blacklisted in the United Arab Emirates. And not only are these websites and services blocked here but using them with a VPN is considered a criminal offense under the UAE law. Those who are caught accessing any banned website will pay a fine from 500,000 AED to 2,000,000 AED, which is equivalent to 136,122-544,491 American dollars. In the worst-case scenario, law offenders become imprisoned.

Virtual Private Network

If you want to enhance your online experience in totalitarian countries with the censored internet or if you want to bypass Netflix’s geographical restrictions, you need to install a Virtual Private Network software on your computer. The VPN will allow you to connect your electronic devise to another computer located somewhere on the internet. You will surf the internet through this computer’s internet connections. It will appear as if you are located where this computer, or server, is located.

Suppose you are visiting China and want to continue watching the series that you have started enjoying back home in England. As Netflix has not yet opened its services in China, there is no way you can access it from there. To use the UK Netflix library while sitting in the Chinese mainland, you need to connect to the server located in the United Kingdom. In so doing, you will make Netflix think that you are in the United Kingdom and will gain access to the series you wish to continue watching.

While you are in China, you may also want to hide your online presence. The government of China forbids to use many websites regularly accessed elsewhere in the world and punishes foreigners for ignoring its internet laws. Arming yourself with the VPN will help you avoid sanctions. Note that the VPN is a tool that permits people to retain their full anonymity. Because this software will help you camouflage your true physical location, you will be able to browse banned websites without being tracked down by the Chinese cybersecurity.   There are other benefits VPNs provide. The number of problems this software solves for internet users reminds us not only of its effectiveness but also of the internet’s limitations. If the internet proves so inaccessible for so many people in so many countries, the usefulness of Virtual Private Networks and similar tools cannot be disputed. While the internet is not omnipresent, VPNs should continue being developed and enjoyed.

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