Every single device which is connected to the internet has an IP address. That little network number is something that you literally cannot do without if you want to access anything on the internet. The reason is that to communicate over the web you need to use something called TCP/IP which requires every device to have a network number in order to work.
That number might look rather generic or made up, but in fact it’s unique on the internet. No other device anywhere on the planet has the same address as you and it’s the nearest thing to a digital identity that we all have. Unfortunately, it is also used against us in a variety of ways ranging from the annoying to the sinister.
Now we’ve probably all seen those spy or crime solving dramas where the ‘IP address is traced’ and of course this is perfectly feasible. Most IP addresses can be traced back fairly easily to the exact device which is using it. However more problematic is the increasing way that this address is used to filter or make more money from us.
Your IP address is also an indicator of your nationality, at least your current national location. If I try and access my Hulu account while travelling, I’ll get blocked because it’s decided I’m not in the USA. However the real tribulation is losing access to the BBC the minute I’m not in the UK, this is a major loss!
Now the reasons for these restriction vary from channel to channel. Hulu places restrictions probably because it has the broadcasting rights for a specific country and if you move outside this area they’re not covered. The BBC used to be quite relaxed about allowing it’s content to be visible from anywhere but they got very strict a couple of years ago. Yet there’s no need to worry although these channels use our IP address against us, you can actually take back control and watch whatever you want irrespective of your location.
As you can see in this video, it is possible to watch all the BBC programmes online from anywhere including Australia. You can do this by hiding your real IP address and showing a false one instead. There are many methods of doing this, however most of them involve hiding your true location by routing your connection through a server based in the correct country.
These server are called proxies or VPN servers and there are two main requirements for them to work properly. Firstly they must be undetectable, and secondly they need to be based in the location your pretending to be from. So if you want to watch the BBC then you need a UK server, for US channels you need one somewhere in the USA. There are variants of course, and a new system called Smart DNS is one of them which is becoming increasingly popular.
If you’re outside the UK, missing the BBC and want to see it in action then check out this post – Watch BBC Abroad for Free – Trial Offer which gives you 14 days to try it out. Unlike the normal VPN solutions it’s actually very simple to set up as all you need to do is modify your DNS servers. On most devices this is relatively straight forward and even means you can set this up on smart TV and phones.
One things for sure, when you take control of your IP address you regain a huge element of control when you’re online.