Virtual Private Network (VPN) services, providing an encrypted private channel for data exchanges between a user and the internet, continue to grow in popularity. Since these services offer robust, encrypted security against online data theft and protect user privacy, along with granting access to restricted international media (by behaving like a permitted IP address), the advantages are clear.
For many TV, movie and box-set bingers, the latter is of great interest due to the fact that it can open gates to media currently unavailable in their local region. For example, if you reside in Europe or the UK, chances are you’ll be denied access to some popular US shows and entertainment. This media, provided by streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, is subject to copyright laws and legal agreements, preventing broadcasts outside of the US.
However, by connecting to the internet using a VPN service, you can access this previously restricted content. This is possible because you can switch your local IP address to a US-based server, effectively masking your actual whereabouts and convincing the streaming service’s user login location filter into believing you’re in the US, and thereby viable to stream the material.
Some countries have their own content ban controls, restricting access to all outside sources, an issue that affects a number of places such as Cuba, China and Egypt, among others. However, with a VPN, users can negate these locally imposed restrictions and gain access to content, with their online activities shielded by encryption and location cloaking, at least to a certain degree (depending on how extensive and widespread the country’s surveillance is).
Of course, a geographical restriction bypass could go the other way, too, if, for instance, a US citizen subscribed to a video streaming service wanted to watch their content while travelling on vacation in Europe. Setting the user’s VPN IP server to their native region would also provide a way to keep up to speed with local news and events, among other content and information.
VPNs also offer superior levels of privacy protection to users who like to exchange software and media through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing platforms such as BitTorrent. While media associations such as the Motion Picture Arts Association (MPAA) continue to close in on users who breach piracy and intellectual property theft laws, VPNs can assist the user against facing lawsuits and prosecutions.
This is because a VPN can encrypt all of the user’s file transfers, both downloads and uploads, plus their IP address, making it incredibly difficult for any eavesdropping law agencies or media copyright enforcing bodies to trace and confirm their identity or location.