After years of preparation, GDPR was finally implemented in the European Union on May 25, 2018. However, some US websites haven’t updated their policies and systems to ensure compliance. If you try to access them, you’ll be greeted with an error message like “This content is not available in your area.” That’s because these sites have blocked visitors from the EU in an effort to avoid paying stiff fines imposed by GDPR rules.
Fortunately, there’s a way to circumvent the geo-blocking used by non-GDPR compliant sites. By using what’s known as a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can avoid these restrictions and regain access to your favorite sites in no time.
Read on to learn how:
What is GDPR? A Brief Explanation
The General Data Protection Regulation, more commonly known as GDPR, is the world’s toughest privacy and security law. In simple words, it’s a set of rules that governs the collection and processing of EU users’ data by organizations.
One of GDPR’s aims is to give individuals greater control over their personal information and how it’s used. The framework applies to companies based in the EU as well as companies that deal with EU citizens, thereby affecting how business is done globally.
Why are Some US Sites Geo-Blocking EU Visitors?
While GDPR is a step in the right direction for consumer data protection, the new rules are complicated and costly to adhere to. Not to mention, there’s the risk of incurring hefty fines for non-compliance. Google and Facebook are some high-profile names that have been hit with lawsuits worth more than $8 billion under GDPR.
This has led to some sites geo-blocking all European traffic for good, whereas others have done so until they can ensure complete GDPR compliance. Though most sites are fully accessible to EU visitors again (there’s no saying you won’t encounter similar problems in the future), you’re bound to come across a few that still aren’t.
In scenarios such as these, a VPN is your savior. More on this below.
How to Avoid GDPR Geo-Blocking With a VPN in 4 Easy Steps
If you’re a resident of the EU and can’t access certain US sites, the good news is that you can unblock them using a VPN.
Just follow these simple instructions:
- Subscribe to PureVPN.
- Download and install the app for your device.
- Connect to a server in the United States.
- With a new IP address, you won’t encounter any geo-restrictions when visiting sites affected by GDPR.
What is Geo-Blocking? How Does it Work?
Geo-blocking isn’t something new. The technology has been around for years now and is used to restrict or deny an internet user’s access to a service or site based upon the geographical location of their Internet Protocol address.
A common example of this is video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have set up geo-blocking to comply with licensing agreements and prevent viewers from accessing content outside their permitted regions. They are turned away (you guessed it) using their IP addresses.
With a VPN on your device, you can change your IP address within seconds. When you connect to a VPN server of your choice, your original IP address is replaced with one from the server. This makes it appear as if you’re located somewhere you aren’t.
For instance, if you live in the UK and connect to a VPN server in the US, sites will be tricked into thinking that you’re based in the US. Changing your virtual location is simple with PureVPN – just log in to our app, connect to your desired VPN server location, and you’re good to go, appearing to be connecting from that very location!
Is Bypassing Geo-Blocking Illegal?
No, it isn’t illegal to access geo-blocked sites using a VPN. However, accessing restricted sites or services from certain locations might go against their terms and conditions. This could result in your subscription being terminated or the account is closed, but even that’s quite unlikely.
Furthermore, VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries around the world. But that doesn’t mean you can use one for, let’s suppose, torrenting copyrighted content. Keep this in mind: you’ll get into trouble for engaging in any sort of illegal activity!
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some of the most asked questions about GDPR geo-blocking:
Which Sites Block EU Visitors?
These few sites are blocking or have blocked visitors from the EU due to the GDPR:
- Baltimore Sun
- New York Daily News
- Chicago Tribune
- LA Times
- The Association of National Advertisers
Can I Use a Free VPN to Bypass GDPR Geo-Blocking?
There are tons of free VPNs available on the market, and you might be tempted to use them. However, these options usually come at a cost, even if you’re not paying any money. Plus, they have a long list of limitations that don’t make them worth your time.
A free VPN will often have a small server network and a large number of users. This means you’re going to have to wait in line to get in, and once you do, you’ll likely get a slow and unreliable connection. You won’t have access to must-have features either, such as bank-grade encryption, DNS leak protection, and an internet kill switch.
What’s worse, most free VPNs have a poor reputation when it comes to protecting user privacy. They might track your browsing activity and sell that information to third parties like advertisers for a profit. In fact, some have even been found to infect your device with malware. For these reasons, you’re better off sticking to paid VPNs to circumvent GDPR geo-blocking.
What Should You Do If a Site Detects Your VPN and Blocks You?
If a site detects that you’re using a VPN and blocks you, fret not! There are a few potential fixes that you can try, such as:
- Connecting to a different VPN server
- Using another VPN protocol
- Switching to mobile data (in case VPNs are blocked in your workplace or school)
- Changing ports (ports 443 and 80 are less likely to be blocked)
Using a VPN is the easiest way to bypass GDPR geo-blocking and restore access to the sites you love. But that’s not all that these tools can do. You can also rely on them to protect your privacy, stay safe on public Wi-Fi, etc. With a top-notch VPN service like PureVPN, you can achieve all this and more in just a few taps/clicks.
Got any questions? Feel free to use the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you!