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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How Can I Get a Fake UK IP Address

So why would anyone want to change their address to a fake IP address perhaps a UK one? There are a variety of reasons actually but the usual answer is either accessing TV or they’ve been blocked/banned from some forum somewhere and want to get back on with a fake IP online.  Anyway there is an answer for  people who want to watch the UK TV channels on the internet from anywhere in the world.  It also works if you’ve been banned from your favorite forum because some moderator just decided to ban you.
So whether it’s a pining for Match of the Day, the BBC News, documentaries or any of the wonderful UK TV channels that are only accessible to those who have a UK IP address, or disguising yourself so you can rejoin a forum – the answer is here.

Why So Many People Use a Fake UK IP Address

The problem is that the BBC, ITV and Channel Four like most media companies online use something called geotargeting. It all sounds a bit geeky and technical but in fact is rather simple. It’s a shortened term for geographical targeting and is a simple way for a website to deliver different content to readers in different locations.

Here’s a very simple example – here’s a search conducted with a US IP address for an electrician –

fake uk ip address

You can see that the search engine has looked at the location based on my IP address and given me US based results.  However on the very same computer if I use a fake UK IP address – the same search yields quite different web addresses.

fake ip england

I now get results based on electricians in the UK rather than the USA.  Which is of course exactly what I need if I was in the United Kingdom at the time.   Google looks at your IP address when you connect and uses that information to tailor it’s results and adverts.

So in this situation geotargeting is actually quite useful and you’ll find nearly all big web sites will use this technique to some extent.   Unfortunately often it’s a case of blocking access rather than customising  your content.  For instance every large media site does this – Hulu, NBC, BBC, ITV, M6 Replay etc.

How The Web Site Determines Your Location from Your IP Address

It’s actually a very simple procedure, the moment you connect to a web site, your IP address is recorded.  It is then looked up in a Country directory or database.  All these sites have access to a complete UK IP address list so it.s a simple check, it’s quite easy to do for your own websites too.

You can access one of these country databases from companies like Maxmind, download it and load it into a database or a spreadsheet. You can pay for a service or just run your own scripts to determine which country a particular IP address is registered to.

So this is what happens every time you get blocked from accessing a resource online because you have the ‘wrong’ IP address.  So for instance here’s what you need to use the following sites –

There are obviously many more.  One of the problems is many of the people who are blocked are just travelling, working abroad or Ex-Pats who just miss their home TV stations.

But of course it wasn’t long before people figured a way to bypass these restrictions.  Initially discovering that you could use proxy servers to sit between you and the website you were trying to access.   The proxy server IP address was the one that was visible so you could use a UK proxy for the BBC and a US proxy for sites like NBC and Hulu.  In the early days (up until about 2005) you could even find and use a UK proxy online, for no charge at all although there was still a significant risk of malware and viruses using them.  Nice to get the option of using a UK proxy free of charge though, as some would be happy to risk it.

So now a mini industry has built up supplying proxies and VPNs to allow people to access the sites they wish.  The very best of them supply you with a huge list of servers in different countries so that you never need to get blocked again.   Many openly advertise themselves as TV proxy services but I’d be careful with those as they tend to get shut down. There’s some useful advice in this video about fake ip addresses and proxies.

In reality though, nowadays you do need something fairly sophisticated like Identity Cloaker,   which I consider the best UK proxy solution.  Unfortunately using a simple UK web proxy isn’t going to work anymore.  Although it’s not that hard to find a proxy with a UK ip address range, every major media site now blocks them automatically.

Of course I use  Identity Cloaker whose software is easy to use and offers access to servers in about a dozen different countries (including USA, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and quite a few more).It works with just a click of a button and you can change your address to a US or a fake UK IP address or whatever you require.

Their trial offer is here – . .  

You can see it in action on this page – Watching BBC Iplayer – there’s a video towards the bottom of the page you can watch too.

There are loads of other services available though, but be careful as it’s easy to set up a proxy server and sling up a fancy TV web site.  The hard part is providing fast, secure servers especially important if you’re going to be streaming video from the like of Hulu and the BBC.

Where to Buy Residential Proxies

It seems a very long time since I first starting playing around with proxy servers, indeed it was about 1996 when I had the opportunity to start playing around with them. I worked in a technical college and we were donated a hugely expensive Sun Sparc which nobody had a clue what to do with (including me) with a connection to JANET. Fortunately as it was a college, in the summer everyone disappeared bar a few full time staff and I had days and weeks to play around with my new toy and I read a document written from CERN about proxies by Ari Luotonen. I started to learn about proxies and even bought Ari’s book when he released it a few years later – Web Proxy Servers.

Where to Buy Residential Proxies

The technology was pretty exciting and new, in fact the first proxies were developed in the CERN labs alongside the birth of HTTP and the world wide web. Proxies even became a source of employment, as the internet age developed and we moved to a world where everyone wanted and expected the internet at their workplace. These web proxies were essential in controlling and managing internet access to corporate networks. Of course, as web presences developed there was even more ‘proxy based’ support work with the requirements reverse proxies being installed on coporate networks and datacentres to protect the back end servers too.

However fast forward to 2019 and I probably spend more time using proxies than setting them up and fixing them. Frankly it’s easier to let other people deal with the headaches of securing, configuring and optimizing servers which are almost always hammered most of the time. So I have become a bit of an expert in the proxy service market place too, which can be extremely bewildering when you first venture into it. Anyway the point of this post is in response to a couple of questions I got mailed to me on this site – basically where to buy residential proxies ?

When you’re looking online for proxies for whatever task, most of their descriptions now refer not to the specific technology but rather the IP addresses that they are allocated. So for instance you’ll hear about US proxies or datacentre proxies which basically refer to their location and the classification of the IP addresses they are assigned. As many of these servers are used to hide the client’s location, where and what the IP address is has become extremely important. If I want to use one to watch UK television for example then it needs a British IP address assigned to it other wise it won’t work. You can read all about what it takes to be a BBC proxy in another post on this site. Similarly as well as location, there is another component – whether the proxy uses IP addresses which are classified as residential IPs or commercial ones. A residential IP address is normally assigned by an ISP to home internet connections, so is among the most trustworthy of IP addresses available online. Which is why marketers, researchers, and spammers all prize these addresses highly – they make you look like an innocent home user.

Where to Buy Residential Proxies

So if you’re looking to place multiple adverts on Craigslist, buy limited edition sneakers or simply trying to run a number of Instagram accounts to fund your lifestyle then residential addresses are the ones you probably need. Herein lies a little problem as the reason they are so trusted is because they’re normally only assigned by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to ordinary users who sign up for broadband accounts with them. Therefore they’re very tricky to get hold of to exploit for commercial purposes but they’re definitely needed.

Just for illustration, for my security and privacy needs (as well as watching the BBC) I have used for many years the excellent Identity Cloaker. It’s fine for bypassing some blocks and great for online anonymity and security yet the vast majority of it’s IP addresses are from commercial ranges so for some purposes they won’t work. Lots of websites have determined that if you’re coming from a commercial IP range then there’s a high change you’re using a proxy server (particularly if there are multiple connections). So if you’re trying to run numerous online marketing tasks then you’re likely to get block or filtered very quickly.

Many businesses and marketers for example run multiple Instagram accounts in order to promote their businesses or products. It’s well known for being a great platform for doing promotional posts on. However if you run lots of accounts from commercial addresses you’re much likely to get flagged by Instagram as a commercial user and your accounts banned, restricted or even deleted. Yet if you run these from a proxy with a range of residential IP addresses then you’re much, much safer. The same can be said for hundreds of other platforms and E-commerce sites, residential IP addresses are great camouflage.

But as we mentioned earlier they are much, much harder to obtain. Fortunately though some of the more advanced companies have managed to establish decent networks of residential IP ranges to assign to their servers. These used to be very expensive but new technology like backconnect and rotating servers have brought the unit price down significantly.

Here’s are the companies I currently use to supply me with residential proxies. I like to use different companies as it helps rotate the addresses used with my various accounts.

Storm Proxies – these guys seriously know what they’re doing and have been around for many years. they have a fast 1GB network with thousands of proxies with all sorts of IP ranges including a large selection of residential addresses. You can also buy proxies optimised (usually means not used and blacklisted) for lots of different platforms for marketing on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and lots of others. Crucially they own the hardware that their proxies run on, whereas many firms simply rent or lease their servers. This improves support and gives them much more control on configuration of the services.

Rotating Proxies  – a new find for me and I’m quite pleased about them.  Recommended by a friend who runs a huge number of very profitable social media accounts, they have lots of different types of proxies include some great residential ones.  The ones I was recommended are the premium dedicated residential proxies. They’re all super fast and have unmetered bandwidth, so you don’t have to worry about building up bills.  They’re not as cheap as rotating and shared proxies but generally much safer because only you are using them,  Unfortunately they only have US IP addresses at the moment but hoping that might change.

Now I’ve used a few others, but currently for residential addresses these seem to work best at least for my activities.  There is one other company which you should be aware of, if only because they have by far the largest network of residential IP addresses.  They’re called Luminati and have an enormous residential IP address network which dwarfs anybody else.   I have used them in the past and it’s a very decent network with some of the best speeds for residential addresses.   However these are not cheap residential proxies.  They’re actually quite expensive but you can lower the costs by using their filtering options at the proxy dashboard which an adviser will help you with.

The reason that their network is so huge is that they’ve built it by creating an enormous P2P network.  Residential users sign up for their free VPN service called Hola and in exchange allow the part use of their connection and computer.   These millions of users are providing the residential addresses used by Luminati’s commercial network.  I’m not entirely comfortable witht hsi method and would certainly never use Hola  myself, but to be fair they have improved the visibility of their terms and conditions.  Mind you I’d bet that a large percentage of users probably have no idea that they’re sharing their computer and connection in exchange for the free VPN.  It does work though and means that you can grab residential IP addresses from virtually anywhere in the world from their 186 million users !!! I have to say if I was using other peoples money and marketing for a big client, I’d probably use them as they are the most business legitimate proxy company.