UK Porn Block Will Encourage VPN Use

It’s difficult to tell if this crazy, techno-backward, filtering scheme that the UK Government is intending to implement is actually going to happen. After all the Government is in turmoil and is currently trying to pick a new Prime minister from a bunch of distinctly shady looking characters, so it’s actually difficult to tell.

Some have suggested that they might just shelve it or push it back quietly. However there seems to be no sign of this and it looks like the mad scheme might actually be released. Here’s the latest opinion from the guys at Torrent Geek who are quite rightly pointing out another drawback.

This summer the UK government will attempt to ban underage access to sites that have a third or more of their content dedicated to porn. Everyone will be required to verify their age and sites that don’t comply with the regime will be blocked by ISPs. However, citizens who seek to circumvent the rules with VPNs, for example, will also find pirate sites wide open again.

Before the dawn of the mainstream Internet, underage access to pornographic content meant trying to sneak a glance over someone’s shoulder at a well-thumbed adult magazine.

Or, if you were ‘lucky’, finding a VHS cassette in a friend’s dad’s cupboard, behind the coats and shoes, in a box, inside another box, in an envelope marked “holiday video”. Such things apparently happened.

With the dawn of the Internet, things have certainly changed. With just a few clicks, one can find pornographic material, with ‘graphic’ often being the operative word. What adults choose to watch is their business, but children being able to access much of the content on today’s platforms is probably not what most parents want.

So in the absence of traditional parental controls, the UK government has stepped in to prevent youngsters from inadvertently stumbling across adult content. From July 15, the country will adopt a checking scheme that will require profit-making sites with more than a third of their content pornographic in nature to verify visitors’ ages.

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So basically by implementing their porn filter, the UK Government will be simply enabling a culture of filter avoidance. It’s very likely to happen, just the same way as it does in China – where I’ve heard of very small children routinely using VPNs to access blocked content from he Chinese state. You will probably find a VPN client shortcut sitting on loads of laptop and desktops for all sorts of reasons not just as a way to bypass the uK porn filter.

BBC iPlayer Proxy – Using One Abroad in 2019

For many years now, there’s been a worrying trend developing on the internet.  What was once all free and open is now hidden behind paywalls or being blocked and censored.  Sometimes it’s whole governments but more often it’s down to commercial companies.  Take for example the BBC, their wonderful iPlayer application is hugely popular but if you step outside the United Kingdom then you’ll be instantly blocked.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve a large standing order paying for your TV license, if you’re not in the UK you can’t watch it.

There was some hope, that the European Union would solve this problem as they were trying to implement a ‘single digital market” which would make it illegal to block access like this.  Yet with the onset of Brexit, it’s unlikely the BBC will bother doing anything about this now. There’s also the new subscription channel called Britbox – https://www.britbox.com/home which is available in the US and Canada, obviously it’s not as good as the full channels but it’s got lots of decent shows.

The businesses involved have decided they prefer a sort of restrictive model that also makes them lots of cash. So now people get filtered based on their location – for example forget watching BBC Iplayer proxy in the US or Japan for free, it’s not going to happen (well not without some sneakiness of course). Yep and the lovable BBC have decided against the public spirited World Service model of sending out their content for free, instead they restrict it just to people in the UK.

This is especially annoying for the people like me who already pay the license fee but can’t watch the BBC when they’re out of the country. But don’t worry here’s a way which will allow you to access anything you like including the Beebs iplayer, Hulu irrespective of your location.  It doesn’t matter where you’re based, you can choose.  The solution works in most scenarios so for an example – here’s how to use a proxy to access BBC Iplayer outside the UK.

BBC Iplayer Proxy Workaround.

Firing up BBC Iplayer outside the UK you’ll pretty soon try and watch something and be greeted with the following message.

BBC proxy

Ha Ha No IPlayer for You

It looks like some technical wizardry of the highest order, but fortunately for us it’s not.  When we connect to BBC Iplayer, the site records your IP address and looks up which country it’s registered in – if it’s a UK IP address the show will start playing otherwise you get the above platitude. Now for these illustrations I’m going to use my subscription to Identity Cloaker, you used to be able to use free proxies but they no longer work unfortunately.

There are a couple of free uk proxy server services but they finance themselves by inserting adware on your computer and some even share your out your internet connection, stay clear !!  In the good old days you could also use things like foxy proxy and the extremely dodgy hola firefox too.

BBC iplayer proxy chrome

Choose a UK Proxy for IPlayer

I just open Identity Cloaker and scroll down to select one of the UK proxies and that’s it.  From this point even though I’m connecting through the Wifi at an overpriced Spanish hotel in Barcelona – it doesn’t matter.  The BBC will think I’m in the UK as it looks at the IP address of the proxy server and not mine. So using a BBC proxy works incredibly well, here’s what I see now.

Firefox VPN

Latest Dr Who from BBC Iplayer

Here’s a video of the process …that I hope explains it.

Instead of the warning when watching the BBC through a UK iPlayer proxy I get the play button and can watch whatever I want.  You’ll also be able to access the live TV streams when connected too. In fact the IP check is at start of the show so if I need to I can just disconnect from the proxy using Identity Cloaker software and stream it directly through my Spanish connection. Is it enough to cheer me up after just having my wallet stolen in a Barcelona bar?

Well probably not but being a fanatical Dr Who fan it might just save me from an evening spent drowning my sorrows drinking overpriced San Miguel from the minibar.

(Note to all visiting Barcelona  – if some nice couple seem overly concerned about marks you have on the back of your jacket and offer to help you.  Then run away/call police – you are having your wallet stolen – yes I did fall for it!) 

Finding a BBC iPlayer Proxy Free – Alas No Longer

Just for the record – you can unfortunately no longer use the free proxy services for this, the BBC have blocked them all and many of the commercial VPN services too.  Any of the companies who openly advertise the BBC on their website will often find themselves targeted by the BBC legal and technical teams – it’s best to be low key which is why the best services don’t mention the iPlayer specifically.

Here’s the link for Identity Cloaker – I can recommend the 10 day trial if you’re just away on a trip or holiday, or just to see if it works.  There are loads of other services who offer something similar though, but this is simply the one I found to be fastest and best value.  I’ve been using it for over 8 years now as a BBC proxy without a problem and it also works for ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky GO.

If you want to watch using an Ipad, Smartphone or tablet you can use Identity Cloaker too just by setting up a VPN manually on pretty much any other device.  Yes for BBC iPlayer proxy ipad too. – try this post about watching BBC Iplayer on the Ipad Abroad.

Want to Bypass the UK Porn Block ?

So finally after many years coming up with a stupid plan, the UK Government is about to try to control access to porn supposedly to protect our children.  Apparently with little discussion and consultation it’s now about to be implemented on July 15th backed by a comprehensive UK age verification system.  The United Kingdom will be the proud owner of the first advanced democratic nation to implement a nationwide ban on accessing pornography online.

UK Porn Block

It appears though they haven’t really spoke to anyone apart from a few children’s charities. There certainly doesn’t seem to have been any input from anyone who knows something about technology.

First of all I’d like to state that 

  • a) I have kids
  • b) I don’t want them looking at porn

However I still think it’s a stupid idea, but before pointing out why – here’s a quick summary of what’s going to happen.

On  the 15th July, anyone visiting a Pornography site from the UK will be presented with an age verification check.   Now many porn sites already have these, but currently they are merely a ‘Are you Over 18 button’ which you just have to press to confirm.  There are no real checks on these buttons and this is what will fundamentally change.

All these sites will require any user from the UK to verify their email address, then their current age.   There will be a variety of options to do this, including using a credit card, uploading scans of driving licenses or passports.

If you don’t like the idea of scanning your passport and uploading it to some website so you can gain access to pornography then there is another option.  You can also visit a local shop or newsagent and verify your age and address there.  In exchange you will be given a card or ‘porn pass’ which you can use to verify your age on the websites with a code.

Why the UK Porn Block is a Bad Idea

1) Goddamit there’s porn everywhere!

We probably all realise that there’s a lot of porn online. However it might come as surprise precisely how much. Nobody knows for sure of course, but even conservative estimates are pretty staggering. This article suggested that over 37% of the entire internet is made up from pornographic material.

Now even this is wrong there’s no doubt that there are literally millions of pages of pornography all over the internet. Much of it unregulated or posted casually in forums, social media sites, bulletin boards or shared via places like Twitter. Of course the big, legitimate multi million pound porn sites will implement these changes. However I suspect that a small website hosted in Ukraine by a bloke called Ivor who likes large breasted Grandmothers is not going to be that bothered about implementing the UK Government’s controls.

Basically one reason the porn block won’t work is because most porn sites will not bother installing the controls. In reality the only sites that will are probably never targets for kids anyway.

2) Push the Problem Underground

What inevitably happens if you start to regulate or control something like this, is that it goes underground. If you block access by age verification to established porn sites, people won’t just stop using porn they’ll just visit the sites which aren’t regulated or controlled. So instead of accessing popular or mainstream porn sites, more and more people will start using the dark web ones or those hosted in countries who don’t care about the UK’s Porno campaign.

3) A Massive Porn User Database Run by The Government

Let’s just consider what the Government is actually creating here – a massive database of millions of of UK porn users. Every person who wanted to watch porn online would have to add their details to this database. Sounds kind of intrusive? How many people would be comfortable adding their name to this list? Of course, why the hell should they ask permission and register their sexual interests with the government.

Even if you trusted the Government to protect and handle this information carefully (hmm) – the potential risks of accidents or misuse are extremely high. What if the information was compromised, and people started posting lists of teachers or clerics or police staff who were listed as ‘registered porn users’. Irrespective of the legality, the potential embarrassment and humiliation would be awful.

Hands up who wants to register their sexual preferences with the government so they can store it in a database that they promise never to use and keep safe.

4) It’s Easy to Bypass

The implementation of the technical infrastructure behind this is bound to be hopeless.  They almost always are whenever Governments attempt these sort of ill thought out projects.   There have already been rumours that one of the main age verification companies involved will be MindGeek using their AgeID system. The slight issue with this company is that they own three of the world’s largest porn sites,  no conflict of interest there then!  Although they keep that fact very quiet it should be said, nothing on there website for example.

Irrespective of how the age verification process is implemented the core problem will be that the UK Porn filter is only applied to UK people.  I’m sure the French wouldn’t be too impressed if the UK Government decided which porn sites they could visit!   This puts us with only one option, geo-location – determining peoples location from the IP address they connect with.  So every porn site will look up the inbound connection, and if it’s from the UK then the age verification module will be implemented.

This means that every half decent VPN service can be used to bypass these blocks easily.  If you ensure your VPN is connected through a Non-UK server then you’ll be completely unaffected by the UK Porn Block as it won’t apply to you. Many children are well aware of this technology as they’ve been using VPNs for years to download pirated films and music online.   Unfortunately as most won’t be able to afford the fast, safe versions they’ll end up using the dodgy free VPNs that install malware and hard porn popups on your computer instead.

Anyone with the slightest technological knowledge will be able to use a VPN like Identity Cloaker to bypass the UK Porn filter with no effort whatsoever.  That would mean they could watch porn without any restrictions and crucially without being added to the Government’s registered porn users list.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen – the UK porn block is a pointless, stupid and intrusive idea but if it does – do yourself a favor and use a VPN.  This our favorite – the best VPN which will keep your identity completely protected if you do want to watch porn online.

Identity Cloaker

 

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