Historically, the internet has been a bastion of freedom. While some lawmakers have sought to demonize the free internet as a lawless digital frontier, their voices have been drowned out by advocates of internet freedom. Despite the current threat to net neutrality in the United States and the EU, the internet remains free and open.
However, lots of people are also discovering that there are a number of websites, as well as other services and content, that they cannot access. It is not always immediately clear why this is the case, but there are a number of potential reasons.
In some cases, a website might truly be unavailable. Perhaps it is experiencing technical issues, or the owner forgot to pay their hosting bill – there is a multitude of potential reasons that a website might not be available.
There are also a lot of scenarios where a website is being actively blocked. In these cases, the website is available, it just isn’t being served to the user for some reason. There is often something that you can do in these cases in order to access the website. But why does this happen in the first place?
Whenever a device connects to the internet, it is assigned an IP address. We don’t need to get into all the nitty-gritty technical details about how IP addresses are assigned. What’s important to know is that an IP address can be tracked.
In principle, an IP address can be traced back to a physical address. In practice, the ability to trace an IP address depends on the tools available and the method by which the device in question has connected to the internet.
Obtaining general location data from an IP address is trivially easy, anyone can do it simply by visiting the right website.
Geoblocking is the practice of blocking content from users according to their geographic region. This is a common practice and is used for a variety of reasons. For example, since the introduction of GDPR throughout Europe, websites across the world have been forced to comply or risk hefty fines. As a result, a number of websites have been unavailable to IP addresses from the EU since GDPR’s introduction.
Perhaps the most familiar example of this for most people will be Netflix. The streaming giant has a variety of deals with copyright holders, deals which are often region-specific.
This means that services like Netflix and Amazon are obligated to restrict their content according to the region of their users.
If Netflix cannot do this effectively, copyright holders will lose faith in them and pull their content. This is why Netflix is so aggressive about preventing users from using VPNs and proxies to disguise their location.
Changing the Location of Your IP Address
Every device that connects to the internet is automatically assigned an IP address that contains information about the device’s location. In order to avoid region blocks and access content that is restricted to specific reasons, users can connect their devices to the internet via a VPN or a proxy.
Let’s start with the VPN. A virtual private network is an encrypted communications channel between a device and a VPN server. When the user connects to the internet, their device sends encrypted requests to the VPN server. It is then this server that interacts with websites, not the user’s device.
A proxy works using the same principle but, whereas a VPN is installed at the operating system level, a proxy is configured on an application by application basis. There are advantages and drawbacks to both methods. As a general rule of thumb, the average user who just wants to change their IP address should use a proxy. VPNs are better when you need maximum security, not that proxies are insecure when they are configured properly.
How to Set Up a Proxy on Your Android Device
Setting up a proxy on Android is easy. Before you can do it, you will, of course, need to sign up for a proxy service, such as Smartproxy. Whichever proxy service you choose, they will be able to provide you with the information that you will need to enter into your device settings. So, before you do anything else, go and get this information.
Once you have the necessary settings data, the rest is easy.
- Open up your Android device settings.
- Head to your Wi-Fi settings. These may be within the ‘Connections’ menu on some devices.
- Tap and hold the name of the Wi-Fi network that you want to use to connect to the proxy service.
- Select ‘Modify Network’
- Press the ‘Advanced Options’ menu.
- Tap ‘Manual’
- Enter the proxy settings as given to you by your provider.
- Press ‘Save’.
- To make sure that everything is working, head on over to iplocation.net.
Connecting to the internet through a proxy will enable you to use a different IP address, which will greatly enhance your online anonymity. However, in order to ensure your anonymity, you need to make sure to clear your cookies beforehand.
Cookies don’t contain much information, but they do contain information about the web browser that created them. This information can be used to defeat your anonymity. Cookies are used in a number of ways to track internet users. For example. advertising tracking cookies contain information that can identify your web browser.
In addition to deleting the existing cookies from your device, you should also enable the ‘DO Not Track’ feature on any web browsers you use.
Using a proxy service is the easiest and most convenient way for most people to change or hide their IP address. Whether you want to watch content that is locked to another region or you need to circumvent GDPR-related geoblocking, a proxy makes it easy. Set up a proxy on your Android device today and the whole internet will truly be open to you.