How to Avoid GDPR Geo-Blocking

Businesses all around the world have been scrambling recently to get compliant with the new European GDPR legislation, and there are still many companies yet to become fully compliant. They are fast running out of time before the European authorities begin catching up with them. For some companies and websites, everything is up in the air at the moment, and there has been a lot of chaos when it comes to people being geo-blocked from certain websites that are non-compliant with the new European regulations.
How to Avoid GDPR Geo-Blocking

Many companies are still unsure whether the GDPR applies to them, and there is a lot of confusion surrounding whether or not the GDPR is actually relevant to non-EU citizens. While definitive answers are yet to come from official sources and geo-blocks are yet to be lifted, there are plenty of things you can do to get around these restrictions and access the content that has been barred by some U.S. sites.

#1: What is the GDPR?

If you haven’t yet heard about the GDPR, you’re pretty lucky! It is something that has plagued the inbox of hundreds of millions of people worldwide and, quite frankly, many of us are tired of hearing about it.
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a piece of European legislation with a worldwide impact. It is a new law for protection of data and privacy for all individuals residing within the EU. It does not matter whether or not your website is based in the EU – if you have traffic coming from and you are handling data on individuals from the EU, you must comply with the GDPR or face the threat of hefty fines being brought by the European authorities.

#2: Why Are U.S. Sites Geo-Blocking?

Simply to protect themselves. Many US-based sites are unaware as to whether the GDPR applies to them, and in a bid to avoid serious proceedings being brought by the European authorities, U.S. sites have started blocking traffic from EU countries.
When the GDPR came into force on May 25th, lots of major U.S. news sites blocked access for EU visitors trying to avoid any culpability should the GDPR apply to them. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and it’s not hard to understand the reasoning behind the decisions to geo-block EU traffic by certain major U.S. sites and news outlets.
It was simply a case of “allow EU visitors to continue accessing the site and risk being hit with harsh fines from the European authorities” versus “geo-block EU traffic until there has been some clarification as to compliance and whether the GDPR applies to them.” In many cases, U.S. sites are geo-blocking EU visitors until such a time that they have managed to catch up with the GDPR and become compliant. However, others are holding out for an official line from European authorities.

#3: Accessing Geo-Blocked Websites

Geo-blocking is nothing new; it is a method that has been used by several countries (i.e., China, Russia and North Korea) to block content that governments do not want their citizens accessing. Sites such as YouTube and Facebook, for example, are geo-blocked in a few of these countries in order to prevent citizens from accessing content that potentially undermines their governments or regimes.
The classic way to access geo-blocked content is to use a VPN – Virtual Private Network – a clever piece of software that connects you to a virtual location and changes your IP address. When you enable a VPN, your IP changes to that of the server you are connected to, and these servers are located worldwide, from the U.S. to Canada to Australia and beyond.
The VPN changes your IP and makes your web traffic look like it is coming from the country to which you are connected. If a website cannot identify your traffic as coming from a geo-blocked location, it will let you unblock all of its content.
In the wake of the GDPR, many U.S. websites have blocked traffic from EU visitors until such a time as either i) the site becomes GDPR-compliant, or ii) the European authorities officially clarify to whom GDPR applies beyond what has already been said. Using a VPN, you can bypass geo-blocked websites and continue to access their content.


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