Internet censorship is not a new problem, but it can influence your life differently, depending on your location. There’s no universal law that says what can and can’t be done on the internet, but instead, every country has their own views on the matter.
This is why there are so many different approaches, and also why some countries have more, and others less access to online content. Now, when it comes to the UK, it’s definitely one of the safest places in the world to live. However, the country’s becoming a real ‘big brother’ when it comes to surveillance of their citizens. This is especially true when it comes to internet censorship, and all of their ISPs are instructed to filter and block many websites that the UK government has a problem with.
There are different types of websites that the UK blocks for various reasons, and they mostly include things like file-sharing, gambling, tobacco, censorship circumvention tools, alcohol, and so on. The list is not short, but these are the biggest of the reasons why some website might not be accessible from the UK. Naturally, this kind of attitude can often lead to overblocking, and there were many complaints of the ISPs doing just that. They’ve even gone as far as to block musical artists’ websites, as well as other legitimate and decent online content.
Incidents like these more often than not tend to be simple accidents and misunderstandings. However, websites that are related to file sharing, and especially the ones related to bittorrenting are hunted down and blocked without mercy. These include sites like The Pirate Bay, ISOHunt, Demonoid and many others. They even blocked a blog that shared torrent-related news called Torrent Freak, despite the fact that it never shared a single link to some pirated content.
This kind of behavior by the UK’s ISPs has become a problem to many people since they can’t access the needed content anymore. Which is why we’ve decided to make this guide on how to unblock such content, and also how to use BitTorrent clients if you’re in a situation like this.
How are these websites blocked
The first thing that we need to understand is how are the websites being blocked. The answer to this is pretty simple – it’s possible because of your IP address. IP addresses are your online signatures, and they may seem like random strings of numbers to an untrained eye, but to those who know how to read them, they’re a real goldmine of information.
The important thing is the fact that your IP address can tell a lot about you, including your location. It doesn’t even need to show your exact location, but instead, it’s enough to show in which country or region do you live so that the internet can know how to ‘treat’ you, and allow and forbid access to certain content.
So basically what happens is that your ISP provides you with IP addresses that are forbidden from accessing certain websites. That means that you’ll never be able to visit them unless you start using specific tools, that can help bypass the restrictions. Of course, the UK’s ISPs and the government quickly realized this as well, so they started blocking such tools as well. They even organized rules and laws that allow them to track you and your internet usage for six months or even longer if you even try to access some of the restricted content. However, there are still ways of bypassing these restrictions, so let’s check them out.
Free ways to unblocking torrenting websites in the UK
When it comes to unblocking restricted content there are free tools, and premium tools, for which you have to pay the monthly or an annual fee. These might allow you to unblock certain online content, however, they won’t be much help for downloading torrents anonymously. Still, they do help with expanding your online reach, so let’s see what they are:
Tor is one of the best ways to navigate the internet anonymously without having to pay for it. It’s completely free, and it uses a volunteer network to send all of your data from a relay to relay, and basically around the world until any connection to you is lost in the transfer.
This is a very simple, but still very effective way of handling the problem. This method will protect you from being identified by the website you’re visiting, and also won’t allow your ISP to see where you’re going while online. Best of all, the entire data transfer is encrypted, so that no one can see what you’re doing, even if they are trying to watch your every step.
Tor is simple to download, simple to set up, and simple to use. It’s a very customized version of the popular browser Mozilla Firefox that’s made to use the Tor Network. The only downside to this method is that it can’t be used for torrenting or streaming, because of the way it sends data around. The connection is simply too slow for such tasks, but when it comes to online browsing, it’s an absolute best.
Free HTTPS web proxies
These are very useful when accessing a public network from a device that doesn’t have your own protection set up, but it’s not that practical for everyday use. When you want to use a web proxy, you have to go to its website.
There you’ll find an address bar in which you can type the website you wish to go to. The proxy will then go to the website and stream it back to you so that the website will register that it’s being visited by a proxy, but it won’t be able to tell who’s controlling it. Many web proxies are protecting you with encryption, so that your activity can’t be monitored, but not all of them, so be careful when using those.
How to torrent anonymously within the UK
Those were the free ways of browsing the web in the UK. Now we have the premium one, the one that you’ll need to pay, but that’s the absolutely best method of using the internet anonymously. We’re talking about the VPNs.
VPNs are the best way of doing this, and that’s without any doubt. Not only that they support torrenting, but they also provide you with the two most important features:
- VPNs will encrypt every piece of data that has entered or left your device, and they’ll do it with the strongest encryptions. Neither the ISPs nor your government will be able to see what you’re doing and which websites you’re visiting. They can’t monitor your searches, slow down your torrents, block the websites, not keep track of what files are you sending or receiving.
- VPNs will connect you to their remote servers, often located in countries around the world. These servers will then assign you a local IP address, that’ll not only mask your real one but will also be displayed at any website that scans it. This means that, in the eyes of the internet, you won’t be you anymore, but instead, it’ll see you as the owner of the address that was assigned to you. This means, that, if you’re using the server from the US, and you live in the UK, the internet will see you as the US citizen. It will give you access to everything and anything that the US citizens can access, and you won’t be blocked when accessing certain content anymore.
These two methods are amazing even on their own, but when combined and used together, they’ll provide you with ultimate anonymity and online security.
What VPN should you use in the UK
VPNs are created to help with remaining anonymous during your online sessions, that much is clear. However, not all of them are the same. They all have the same basic features, like encryption and the ability to mask your IP address, but other than that, it’s almost impossible to find two providers with the same deal. Which means that now you’re faced with a choice, and you have to decide which one to use.
The good news for the new users is that VPNs are very affordable and some of them can even be called cheap. The demand for them has gone sky high in the last five years, which made many new providers appear, and the already existing ones have reduced their prices.
Now you can get a completely functional VPN with amazing protection and a massive number of features for $7-10 per month, and a few can even offer a deal for $5 or less per month. If you buy an annual subscription, that it. Basically, a VPN will give you access to everything you ever wanted on the internet, it’ll let you torrent anonymously, and it will do a lot more, for less money than a Netflix subscription. Even if they charged that much per week, it would still be worth it, much less a month.
To help you find your way around them, and also to help with choosing the best one, we’ve made a list of our top 3 VPNs. They’re all torrent-friendly, have fast speeds (especially the download speeds), they keep no logs, include many servers in many countries, including the US, UK, the Netherlands and more, and they all have an OpenVPN Encryption.
In short, our top picks include:
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is definitely one of the best VPNs out there, and it has made our list because it has great security and anonymity. That shows us that they take their users’ privacy very seriously, and that’s what VPNs should be like. Private Internet Access is very torrent friendly as well, and if you decide to go with its annual subscription, it will cost you only $3.33 per month.
That’s an insanely low price for such a great VPN, and that’s why it’s on this list.
Private Internet Access will provide its users with many features, that include the already mentioned low price, but also a very easy software, five connections at once, a proxy service, a very strong encryption, a kill switch, the ability to use torrents, and it won’t even keep any logs. All you need is an email address and a payment method, and you’re perfectly qualified to subscribe and use PIA as you see fit.
IPVanish is also one of the best VPNs that you can find. It’s based in the USA, and it greatly values speed, which is one of the things it’s the most known for. It has servers in over 69 countries, and it keeps no logs, which makes it one of the most desirable VPNs in this day and age.
As we already mentioned, IPVanish is one of the fastest VPN providers that you’ll find, and that’s because it’s one of the very few VPNs that actually own their network. What makes it great for torrenting, apart from the great speeds, is the fact that it owns many servers in many countries, including the ones that allow torrenting, like Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Romania.
Its best features include, once again, great speeds, no logging of users’ activity, amazing app, encryption, and prices, but also many servers in 69+ of the world’s countries.
TorGuard is described as the top VPN service and is probably better than any other that you can currently find. It has several deals that it offers so that users don’t have to buy it’s full package if they don’t need it. Every one of the deals has its own set of features and prices.
These features are one of the things that TorGuard is known for since it has more of them than pretty much any other VPN out there. It offers you unlimited speeds and bandwidth, up to five simultaneous connections, several VPN protocols, including the OpenVPN. It also offers over 3000 servers in more than 55 countries, which also puts it among the VPNs with the biggest network. Its customer support is free, and available nonstop, every day of the year, even if you’re are not subscribed to it.
Other deals that TorGuard offers include anonymous proxy, anonymous email, and privacy bundle. These deals are for users that don’t want or need to use the entire package.
Using torrents is one of the oldest, but still most popular ways of online file sharing, and many believe that it’s not fair nor acceptable that they’re being blocked. Especially because there are even worse countries than the UK when it comes to censorship, like UAE and China.
That’s why the internet has fought back and found a way to continue using them. That’s why we have such strong VPN encryptions and such fast speeds, and if you decide to start using VPNs, we advise you to use one from our list or to find one with similar features.
Whichever you decide to go with, just make sure that it supports torrenting, and that it doesn’t keep logs. Also, don’t use free VPNs, since they aren’t using your money to sustain themselves, which means that their source of income comes from elsewhere. That most probably includes advertisers that are paying them for your data or will bombard you with ads.
Hopefully, this guide has answered a couple of your questions regarding the VPNs and has shed some light the benefits of using one.