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EU Web Proxy for Grown Up Internet Laws

Many areas of the world are of course obsessed with making rules and legislation that cover the internet.  Unfortunately much of it seems to be focused in specific areas:

  1. Allowing large companies to make more money.
  2. Allowing large companies to buy, sell and trade personal data.
  3. Allowing Governments to access all your personal data.

There genuinely seems to be a bias, there seems little legislation which works the other way.  Nothing which protects privacy or makes using the internet safer and fairer for private individuals.   There’s a billion dollar industry set up simply on farming your personal data in order to sell you stuff or influence your political opinions.   The countries we usually look for a lead in democracy such as the USA and UK again seem set more on the above three areas.

Fortunately there are some options we can take, which are well worth exploring.  For example – what is a web proxy?  Until recently this would be a simple option to at least hide your web browsing history from being logged at your ISP.  Although this will work to some extent, there’s little point in looking for a free euro proxy for any real sense of privacy.   The reality is that if you use a web browser then unfortunately most of your browsing happens in clear text registered quite visibly against your ISP allocated IP address.  Which unfortunately means that you have virtually no chance of keeping your online activity private.

EU Web Proxy

It’s hardly surprising then, that people feel the need to use VPNs and proxies to take back a little bit more control and privacy online.   In facts it’s one of the only steps you can take to genuinely keep some of your online activities a little more secure. Yet even then there is an issue, these EU proxies and VPN servers have to reside somewhere so where is best to choose?

Use an EU Web Proxy

Well most of the major VPN services allow you to select which country you wish, so fortunately we do have a choice.    Of course, often this is controlled by other considerations such as geo-location – you want a BBC VPN then it’s going to have to be in the UK.  The same with lots of other media sites, pick the country that gives you the best access.  Speed and privacy are essential and you’ll unfortunately definitely need a paid service, alas there are no super fast proxy sites in existence anymore.   IN fact it’s been a few years since there were any reliable fast proxy sites for video streaming simply because they are easily detected and blocked.

If you’re not restricted like this, then it’s sensible to look to the European Union.  Yep a EU Web proxy is likely to be the most secure and protected by decent and fair privacy laws.   In fact any of the best paid proxy server companies will have numerous servers available across the European Union and an extensive choice in their Eu proxy list.  What’s more some of the EU countries servers are more likely to be quicker and less populated than US and UK servers (although yes the UK is still in the UK at the moment, it does have poor privacy laws).

It’s of course tempting especially if privacy is your main aim, to look for a fast proxy server IP address in somewhere a bit more remote like Russia.  However this is not always a wise move,  you might think your data there is more secure yet corruption is rife there. That high speed proxy server which is supposed to be secure might be exactly the opposite if there’s a small bribe involved, don’t expect much help from Russian authorities either.  Certainly for security an EU web proxy seems the safest option.

The EU does seem to be at least making an attempt to create a sensible digital market place which looks out for both sides.   For instance it is currently implementing some changes that stop European digital providers from blocking access based on their location.  So a German user cannot access their German Netflix account currently when they happen to be in another European country.

At the moment they too need to use a specific VPN in that country to do this.  Just like you do for the BBC, Netflix and most other media companies of any size – it does get complicated simply to watch the BBC abroad as you can see.  Perhaps the new legislation being implemented will stop this forcing digital providers to ensure access across the single market.  It is hoped that this will happen in 2018 and from then Netflix will no longer be able to block access across European borders, although they’ll probably still do this for the rest of the world.

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Hey How do I Hide My VPN Connection?

The problem with being a super sneaky ninja surfer and using a VPN is that anyone with a little IT knowledge and access to ISP logs can see that you are using one.   For the ordinary user, internet logs are a myriad of calls and get requests to hundreds of different web servers and IP addresses.  However if you’re using a VPN then it all get’s channeled through a single IP address, that of the VPN server.

hide my vpn
Of course, it’s all encrypted and hidden so your actual web activity is hidden.  However signalling the fact that you’re using a VPN does kind of decrease the feeling of privacy somewhat.  So is there a way of becoming a little more discrete and hide VPN connection from various nosy people?   Well it depends on which VPN service you’re using but the most secure services have configuration options that enable to make the fact you’re using a VPN almost invisible too.

Even the best proxy server isn’t going to have these options at least not unless you’ve full administrative access .  However a few of the proper secure VPN download for PC have customizable interfaces that allow you to configure these security settings.

Hide My VPN – Demonstration

Here’s a video explaining the options in Identity Cloaker – entitled Hide my VPN, where you can see how to make VPN use invisible.

The key factor in hiding the use of a VPN or proxy is to make your browsing look similar to everyone else’s and that involves rotating your internet addresses that are used. If your connection simply uses a single IP address all the time it’s fairly easy to identity it’s a VPN or Proxy server being used. However if this IP addresses is rotated slightly then your connections will sink back into the shared anonymity of the logs.

Identity Cloaker also allows you to configure some applications to be encrypted and redirected whilst others operate as normally. For instance you can configure one browser like Firefox to be encrypted and routed through the VPN server, whilst Chrome operates like a normal insecure browser. You then switch to the secure browser when you want some privacy and to hide your browsing whilst everything else is normal. Activists use this technique to just switch to their secure browser when posting on social media or making controversial posts.

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Best VPN for Anonymity

Have you ever wondered what is the extent of your digital identity and if  you can control it?  Mostly people completely underestimate the scale of their digital imprint and imagine they have some control over it.  Firstly they imagine that if you delete or remove something about you online that it’s then gone, unfortunately that it is rarely the case.

best vpn for anonymity

The problem with this concept is that there’s rarely a single location where you can delete information.   If you send an email, it will transfer from your client through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and then routed through a variety of shared hardware, servers, routers and switches until it reaches it’s destination.  At any point the data can be logged, recorded or copied so that email doesn’t only exist on the senders and recipients computers but potentially in many other places too.   Effectively you would have to delete every single copy wherever they may be.

It’s the same with anonymity, it’s reassuring to think that what you do on your computer is completely private but it’s simply untrue.   Most data sent from your computer shares some important properties which make anonymity online difficult –

  • It’s traceable back to your computer and location via your IP address.
  • Most of the data is in clear text and easily readable.
  • It’s transported via other people’s hardware.

In many ways using and communicating via the internet is like sending a postcard through the mail – everyone who comes across it can read it (and copy it if they so wished).   Understanding this makes at least possible to increase your level of privacy online.

There are of course a whole host of tools which can help reduce the risk however one of the most essential is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or perhaps an EU based proxy. Although a VPN doesn’t guarantee complete anonymity it’s without doubt the biggest single step you can take to protect your data online.  So it makes sense to find and purchase the best VPN you can find but remember it does depend on your requirements, for example many don’t allow anonymous torrenting .

The crucial protections that a VPN gives you are many, but these are probably the highlights:

  • Encrypts all your data being transmitted which means although it can still be intercepted, none of the content is readable.
  • Stops your internet activity being logged at your ISP.  Without a VPN every website you visit, every file you download or video you watch is recorded and logged at your ISP.
  • Stops websites you visit from recording your address and location.

There are other areas you would need to protect of course to minimize your digital footprint but most are irrelevant unless you use something to protect the internet connection you use.  Make sure you use a VPN that is run by a company who take security seriously.

The best VPN for anonymity is one where security is paramount and under no account will they log any of your data, at  the moment the best legal protection comes from European privacy legislation  so it’s worth considering companies based there.  It’s tempting to pick a more obscure location, but if you start routing your connection through something like a Russian or Indian proxy make sure you know them well as there’s likely to be little legislation protecting your rights and their conduct.

Our recommendation for the most secure service and the best VPN for anonymity would be ..

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Anonymous Torrenting – What’s the Best VPN in 2017

When you join a swarm of people happily downloading the latest blockbuster or best selling album, it’s kind of easy to feel pretty safe.  After all you’re hiding behind a piece of software built for anonymous torrenting, right?  You don’t need to know how to hide ip address when downloading, do you? Well no that’s wrong and for the clue you only have to take a little look in the menu of most torrenting software – here’s a useful screenshot to illustrate the point.

anonymous torrenting

See those details?  Those are the IP addresses of your fellow down-loaders, their location and which client they’re using.  So if you’re downloading a pirated version of some movie – you can see everyone else who is downloading that movie too.   Is it a big deal?  Should you hide IP address utorrent or any other software.  After all you’re not likely to use that information as you’re doing the same thing so do you need anonymity?   Well imagine that information is available to any legal or copyright holder simply by attaching themselves to the download.

What they can produce in seconds without any skill or knowledge is a huge list of IP addresses who are infringing the copyright on a particular download.  Which will include you unless you have some ip address protection.  Worse, those addresses can easily be turned into real names, addresses and phone numbers with a letter or legal notice to your ISP.   It’s worth thinking about that sitting in your ISP is a log with full details of everything you’ve downloaded via torrents for anyone to see, the logs are usually kept for up to two years although that varies on local laws.   Sure some will be false addresses perhaps one or two from a public anonymous proxy, but the vast majority will be real addresses and names.   The name that will be associated with the download will be whoever pays the bill for the ISP – makes you think doesn’t it, is an anonymous bittorrent solution only for the paranoid – definitely not.

So what’s the risk, well there is a financial cost if you get caught often set at a low cost per infringement – but $20 per download can get expensive if you get caught for 20 songs or movies.  What’s worse it can rise to thousands if they decide to make an example by taking legal action.  The costs of even the best ip blocker quickly becomes fairly irrelevant compared with these sort of numbers. It’s a false economy to search for the best free IP hider because there really isn’t one that is reliable and safe. It can also be kind of embarrassing to being prosecuted if your downloads are of the adult entertainment variety, especially worrying if your parents or wife pays the bill!

The risks are so extensive and the likelihood of getting caught so significant that maintaining your anonymity whilst downloading torrents is  not just advisable but arguably essential.

Methods of Anonymous Torrenting

There are a few options, some much more technical than others.  The free methods using online anonymous proxies or things like Tor are covered online but involve some technical skill and lots of patience as your download speeds will plummet.  They’re covered extensively online but make sure you check you have implemented them correctly, it’s very simple to think you’re using an anonymous proxy but you’re really not!  Just selecting an Proxy EU service doesn’t guarantee privacy although using a paid service is usually a good sign as companies will normally delete all their logs.

Safety and speed really relies on using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider to both encrypt your download and shield your IP address from any prying eyes.   The best VPN for  anonymous torrenting depends on a variety of reasons including speed and security.  Most of these are pretty easy to use, simply click a button to connect then start your torrent client and everything should be protected.

There are some important caveats though:

  • The IP address of the VPN provider will appear associated with the torrent so any DCMA notice could be forwarded to them (with a request for your identity) – make sure that your VPN provider doesn’t comply with these or better still doesn’t log any data which means they can’t identify you.  There are a few providers who do this.
  • Use only a professional service.  A badly set up VPN connection simply won’t hide your identity and worse will make you look more guilty, choose an established provider who knows what they’re doing.
  • Torrents devour bandwidth – make sure your VPN provider allows this, many don’t.

It’s not complicated to keep your torrenting anonymous but it doesn’t happen without action.  Sitting and downloading torrents in the clear has a real chance of getting you into real legal problems.  Even if it’s just a $150 DCMA infraction notice, is it worth the hassle.   If you do want to take the risk use an random, anonymous internet connection from a cafe or hotel.  Also it’s well worth avoiding downloading the latest blockbuster as these high profile films are often monitored and people downloading aggressively prosecuted.

Try IPVanish for the best VPN for anonymous torrenting,  they don’t log, allow torrent services and you can even pay in bitcoins if you’re really cautious.

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Watch BBC Abroad Using a VPN

If you spend any amount of time online, then investing in a VPN program is a very worthwhile investment for a variety of reasons. The most obvious are the blocks which operate based on your location, the reason you can’t watch BBC abroad for instance. Secondly security, the internet is inherently insecure partly because it’s built up on a huge interconnected network of other people’s hardware. When you visit a web site your connection travels through routers, switches and hubs owned and controlled by all sorts of people and organisations of which you’ll have little knowledge and no control.

Just to illustrate, simply start a command prompt in windows (run – command.com) and type in tracert www.facebook.com, this will show you the route your internet request will make when you use Facebook.

watch BBC abroad

All those steps are other people’s hardware and everything you do online follows a similar pattern hopping from one piece of hardware to another until it reaches it destination.   Of course, this would be perfectly fine and is the way the internet has always worked, except the majority of this communication is not protected at all all, in fact it’s often in clear text.    Which means anyone can read, divert or copy information from all your internet transactions.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network)  protects against this by encrypting all the data in your connection, every username, every password and email protected against anybody who is listening in on your data.

How a VPN Can Help You Watch BBC Abroad

But there’s another cool use which you can see in this video – How to access BBC iPlayer Outside UK on YouTube. The privacy aspect of a VPN has another excellent use, which is arguably the reason millions of people use them across the world.  This simple network connection allows expats to watch british TV,  to access Hulu from Europe and watch Sky Go abroad.

The reason is that not only is your connection encrypted but your identity/location is protected too. This means that you pretend to be in a different location, which is useful when you are trying to access media sites which restrict access to a specific country. In the above example the VPN server is located in the UK so it allows people all over the world to watch BBC abroad and access the iPlayer application at will.

This is because when you visit any web site your real location and IP address is hidden when using a VPN.  The website will see the server’s address and if you use a British one then you can watch ITV player abroad or any UK TV stations.  Normally they would get blocked when they tried to access the site because their IP address wasn’t registered to a UK address.

watch British TV

The VPN can also be used on most internet enabled devices which all have an IP address when connected.  So if you want to learn how to watch bbc iplayer abroad on iPad or other tablet then a VPN can be established from there too.    The key to getting the most of a VPN service is flexibility, the best services have an infrastructure with servers all over the world and with hundreds of addresses.  This is important for two reasons, firstly it stops them being detected, both BBC and SKY Go blocking VPN programs in 2017 which affected the smaller companies.  In addition having servers in different countries means that you can access media sites all over the world, in addition to allowing you to watch BBC abroad you can also watch US, Canadian and Australian media sites just for a start!

Of course it’s not just simple web based geo-blocks that a VPN helps sidestep, many countries block access to parts of the web too. China is probably the most famous example where the State heavily censors the internet using the infamous ‘Great Firewall of China’ and many popular social media sites are blocked by default. The Chinese people however have discovered that you can bypass these blocks simply by subscribing to a VPN service based in another country – they also use it to watch UK TV abroad free of censorship.

There is no doubt that the use of ‘personal vpn’ programs are growing at an exponential rate.  However this is hardly surprising, the privacy issues are very real with complete records of our online activity available to anyone in authority effectively.  The extending use of region locking is also likely to drive demand too, with so much digital content online and restrictions being added depending on your location.

People don’t like being blocked from content simply due to their location and a VPN completely bypassed these restrictions.  Some of them are extremely unfair, for example a person could pay the BBC license fee and be blocked from being able to watch BBC abroad on their holidays!  After all why shouldn’t they be allowed to watch uk TV abroad on iPad while they are on holiday?

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Watching Blocked Irish TV Stations – TV3 and RTE

There’s nothing better for curing a bit of homesickness than watching your home TV station broadcasting the news or a sporting event.  Wherever you are it can transport you back to your home if only for a few hours.  Which is why the internet is so wonderful for curing the blues when you just miss the your  home town.

Of course we have a solution for this, and the internet has enabled it although there are still a few obstacles in the way.  This is a quick post for all those Irish people who are a long way from home and just want to hear a familiar accent and home related stories.  One of the best ways to stay in contact with the Irish news and stories is by simply watching the news on RTE or TV3.  These are arguably the biggest broadcasters in the Republic of Ireland and both of the have fantastic websites which stream most of their programmes live and ‘on demand’.

So in theory you can sit in an internet cafe in Cairo and watch the Irish news on  your laptop.  Unfortunately in reality this isn’t so simple and what will actually happen is that you’ll get blocked when you try and access either RTE or TV3.   Although for RTE you’ll actually get redirected to an international version of their site which contains very little of their programmes.    What happens is that when you connect to any of these sites, they check your IP address and perform a lookup to see where that IP is registered from, if you’re not on an Irish IP address then you’ll be blocked due to copyright restrictions.

However all you need to do is hide your real IP address and present an Irish one instead.  Here’s how it’s done by using an Irish proxy server like this.

Although you’re not actually changing your IP address if you relay your connection through an intermediate server you can hide your real location. If that server is in Ireland that is an Irish proxy , the web sites will see an Irish IP address, if it’s in France then they’ll see a French IP address and so on.   The beauty of this program is that it has servers in all sorts of countries, you can even use it from back in Ireland – to watch the BBC iPlayer like this post.