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New IP Address – American Netflix

For travellers, expats and geeks there’s an essential tool which can transform your internet experience. It’s a simple tool which allows you to perform one important function – the ability to control your IP address.

A little background, the IP (Internet Protocol) address is the ‘unique’ network number which is assigned to your device when you connect to the internet. It doesn’t matter if it’s a computer, laptop, tablet, smart TV or even an internet enabled fridge! Every device which access the internet does so through this network identification number.

This is fine, it’s how the internet works after all. This IP address is assigned through whatever service you connect to the internet through – be it an home based ISP, office network, hotel Wifi or maybe your local coffee shop. The address is assigned automatically and enables data to be delivered to your device when you’re connected.

The problem is that this address is completely out of your control, even if you are connecting from home you have no way of directly controlling it. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem in the internet of a decade ago, however nowadays it’s a real issue. Not only are numerous entities logging, monitoring and analysing your web activity – many web sites are actually controlling what you can do online too.

Try Z Nation on US Netflix
Relaxing with the Zombie Apocalypse

So as I sat down in a rather boring hotel, based on the outskirts of a Dutch Industrial estate last week to enjoy the latest episodes of Z Nation I had something of a surprise! When I fired up my Netflix account on my trusty Samsung laptop I noticed something strange – lots of foreign language shows (in languages I couldn’t understand). Worst still they only had the first series of Z Nation which I’d finished watching about two years ago!!

You see I was being connected to the Dutch version of Netflix. Now when you visit a foreign country, you of course don’t expect them to switch all the TV and radio stations over to suit a US visitor. But this is my Netflix account, on my computer, paid for on a US credit card. Why should I suddenly want to watch the Netherland’s version of the entertainment channel !! I can’t understand half of it anyway.

IP Address American Netflix

Surely it’s better to link the user with his home version of Netflix, unless they specify otherwise. Unfortunately that’s not the case, the version of Netflix you receive is linked to the IP address that you connect to. So a American Netflix user who travels a lot is going to get flung around the versions of the world when all he wants to watch is some home grown US Zombie action !

IP Address for American Netflix

Which brings me back to my original point, you’re completely at the mercy of these websites unless you are able to control your IP address. Now as stated earlier, it’s impossible to actually change this IP address but you can hide it and display a different one. So although I am always going to connect through a Dutch ISP when in Holland, I can connect through a server in the US and appear to have a US IP address for American Netflix.

Here’s how it’s done –

You use a tool to connect through to a network of VPN servers based around the world. So when you visit Netflix for example, then it will only see the IP address of the server you are connecting from. If you select a US server then you will be presented with American Netflix, switch to a Japanese one and you’ll get their version. You can effectively control what you can access.

It also works well for accessing websites which are simply blocked, for example AMC, NBC, ABC and Hulu are not accessible without a US IP address. If you don’t use a VPN you’re going to be restricted to the websites in your current location certainly with regards to media sites.

The VPN also gives you a higher level of security and privacy, when you are connected all your browsing is private and the connection is encrypted so no personal details can be intercepted.

Truthfully there are tons of these services out there, and it can be difficult to decide which one to use. Our personal recommendation is a service called Identity Cloaker – it offers fast access to servers all over the world and is not expensive. It also doesn’t try to lock you into long subscriptions which are difficult to cancel just use and let it expire when you’ve finished.

You can try their 10 day trial here – IDC

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American Netflix DNS 2017 Solution

Only a couple of years ago there were many options for bypassing the extending region locks that most media sites were using.  The internet has been getting more frustrating to use with blocks, bans and ‘not available in your country’ messages appearing every time you try and visit a new site or watch a movie online.  It’s pretty bad for a US based surfer but can imagine it’s even more frustrating for people surfing from a smaller country.  Netflix has been one of the most aggressive in this area, using very advanced techniques to restrict access from it’s paying subscribers !

Netflix wants to keep French Netflix users using the French Netflix, Canadians using the Canadian version and so on.   One of the simplest methods of bypassing these blocks available was a American Netflix DNS solution which previously worked very well. This simply involved pointing whichever device you used to watch Netflix at a specially configured DNS server.    This would quietly reroute your initial connection to make it appear you where in a different country to allow you to unblock US Netflix,  it worked perfectly and was easy to configure on things like media boxes, phones and tablets.

Unfortunately when Netflix targeted the VPN services, it also obliterated the Netflix DNS options too.  Netflix blocked all connections which originated from commercial servers, which included all the Smart DNS solution servers too.

US Netflix DNS

The only option that survived initially were the ‘free solutions’ like Hola which shared your internet bandwidth.  You’d get a residential connection through these, but you’d also get umpteen unknown people surfing hard core porn through your registered address too.   Using these on your own connection or computer was madness so it looked like Netflix has won.

So No US Netflix DNS Solution Left ?

Fortunately both the VPN services and the Smart DNS providers have started to come up with solutions. Residential IP addresses to allow access to the Netflix network are not easy to get for commercial providers. Some companies have managed to get them and establish a residential server network to facilitate access to Netflix. IDC was the first company to provide a working Netflix VPN and now there’s a Smart DNS Provider too.

The company is called Unblock and is a Canadian company who specialise in Smart DNS solutions. They have actually integrated residential addresses across their networks so you can access all sorts of versions of Netflix. The few VPN providers who now support Netflix access will normally only work with UK and US versions of the site.

Smart DNS is definitely not as secure as using a VPN and may be vulnerable to other detection techniques but at the time of writing the Unblock US solution is working well. So if you’re looking for a working US Netflix DNS solution at the moment it’s your only real option.

At the moment there’s a free trial of the only viable Smart DNS solution available here –
FREE Trial of Unblock Here

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US Netflix in Canada 2017

It was in 2015 that Netflix expanded it’s network onto a truly global platform, adding over 150 countries to it’s reach.   Your Netflix account could be used in just about every developed country in the world with only a few exceptions like North Korea and Iran.   However although it could be argued that a Netflix account was global that didn’t mean you had complete control over the programmes that you were able to watch.

The main problem people who travel a lot have with their Netflix accounts is that what they can see is largely determined by their physical location.   For example if you take out a Netflix subscription in the US and then travel to France, when you sign on to your account you will see the French version of Netflix not the US one.  Of course, the French version of Netflix is very different to the US version and obviously contains more French and European content.   If you’re a fluent French speaker this might not be a problem, but if you’re half way through a US only boxed set only available in the USA then it might just be.

The reality is that the  US version of Netflix has far and away the largest range of content available.   In fact compared to some smaller countries you’ll find literally thousands more movies, TV series and documentaries.  All this disappears as soon as you travel outside the geographical borders of the United States.  Cross over to Canada for example and the same thing will happen, when you log onto Netflix you’ll be redirected to the Canadian version of the site.

So Can I Watch US Netflix in Canada in 2017?

Actually there is a way to control which version of Netflix you see as you can see in the following video:

Simply by using a VPN server to hide your real location, you can actually access the US version of Netflix from Canada or anywhere else for that matter. In fact many people will open a Netflix account in Europe and then only ever watch the US version. You can’t blame them, when you see the amount of movies on the US version of Netflix compared to other countries you’ll be amazed.

For instance, I love the Zombie apocalypse program Z Nation which is available on Netflix. However whenever I check in most European countries there’s only a single series. Whereas on the US version of Netflix you can find four series available for streaming or downloading. This is quite common, you’ll often find that the non-US versions of Netflix are several series behind on many popular shows.

The only time these restrictions are lifted is with content produced directly by Netflix because they own the copyright and distribution rights. So as their model switches more towards Netflix produced movies and shows then this will be slightly less of an issue. However until then if you want to watch the best version and access US Netflix in Canada or any other country in 2017 then you should check out a VPN service.

Here’s our recommendation – IDC

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How to Change Netflix Country

There are of course few sources of entertainment quite as popular as the media company – Netflix.  It’s name has become synonymous with streaming video and entertainment, in fact in some demographics Netflix is becoming a verb.  To Netflix, or ‘I just Netflix’d all night’ means that you simply chilled in front of the TV (or PC, laptop or phone) and relaxed.  You’re never alone with a Netflix account although if you’ve ever travelled and tried to use it you’ve probably been somewhat shocked.

The reason is that although your Netflix account is meant to be a global one, what you can access is very dependent on your location.  So if you’re an American travelling in say Japan and you login to your Netflix account – you’ll be greeted by the Japanese version of the media site.   For some people it’s a pleasant surprise and you may find yourself with lots of new movies and TV shows, but generally for a US account holder it’s invariably a disappointment.  Simply put, the American version of Netflix is way better than any other and it’s likely you’ll end up missing a lot of your favorite shows when logging in to another country’s variant.

How to Change Netflix Country

So what do you do if you’re stranded away from your preferred version of Netflix? Can you switch back to your favorite or are you stranded? Well fortunately there is a solution to change netflix country although it’s not quite as straight forward as it used to be.

Up until last year, you could easily just use something like a proxy or VPN server to switch to whatever version of Netflix you wanted. Literally millions of people did this and it basically meant you bounced you internet connection off a server in the country you wanted to pretend to be in. So if I sat in Japan and connected to a US based VPN server before I logged into Netflix, it would think I was in the US and I’d get the American version again.

change netflix country
Netflix’s Dastardly Plan

Here’s the problem though, last year Netflix decided that it wouldn’t allow this and came up with a fairly dastardly plan to block people doing this. What they did decimated all the VPN/TV watching services over night – they blocked access to anyone who didn’t have a residential IP address. This unfortunately included 99% of all the addresses allocated to VPN servers and they all stopped working with Netflix.

A huge industry of bypassing the Netflix blocks and filters almost vanished overnight. It even blocked people who lived in countries where Netflix wasn’t deployed yet which was even worse because they lost access completely not just locked into their countries version.

Here’s the message you then got when you tried to access Netflix –

change netflix country

Fortunately the internet normally provides workarounds fairly quickly and now there are a few VPN services which will allow access to US Netflix again.

What they have had to do is buy up residential IP addresses to fool Netflix which will only allow these addresses through their filters. There are only a couple of companies how have managed to do this, simply because these addresses are normally only assigned by Internet service providers and can be difficult to find. So if you’re looking for a way to change Netflix country make sure you check or test this works before buying any long term subscription. Lots of companies have conveniently forgot to update their websites and many still claim they work with Netflix still but they don’t

Our friends at Identity Cloaker have upgraded their Network to include residential IP addresses but currently only support US and UK Netflix access – try out their trial to check for yourself. It’s all been working for nearly a year though so it should be fine. If you know of any others please post a comment to let others know.

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Free Smart DNS Netflix – It’s Back

We’ve covered a lot about  the Netflix ban on VPNs and proxies on this site and how slowly it’s being circumvented.   There are now a couple of VPNs that allow you to switch between the different version of Netflix irrespective of your location.  Which for expats or people who travel a lot is incredibly useful, and means you can choose  Netflix region free without being forceably routed to your local version.  However there has been one thing missing, up until now no-one has released a Smart DNS system which will work with the new Netflix blocks.

Smart DNS is a relatively new technology which instead of routing your entire internet connection simply routes specific parts when you try and access region locked sites by using specially configured DNS server.  For instance if you are in the US and tried to access the BBC iPlayer,  the Smart DNS server would route part of your connection through a UK server in order to bypass the UK only region locks.  It works very well and because all you need to do is change your DNS server settings is simpler to use on different devices than a VPN.

smart dns netflix

Here’s what you do on a Windows client, simply change your DNS servers to the Smart DNS server and if you have an active subscription you’ll be able to bypass most region blocks.  That’s all you need to do and you could implement in the same way on any media device, smart TV, games console or phone as long as you could specify the DNS servers.

Except unfortunately Smart DNS Netflix was another casualty of the Netflix purge on VPNs and everyone of them stopped working.  If you used one of these Smart DNS servers you would receive exactly the same error message as you would with a proxy as soon as you tried streaming anything.   Most of the providers have given up trying to support Netflix, however finally I have found one provider who has fixed the problem and released a Smart DNS solution that works with Netflix!

It’s from a company who I haven’t used for a while but I know has been a Smart DNS/VPN solution provider for many years. The company is called Unblock-US and after a tip off that they were the first to create a DNS based solution that allows you to bypass the Netflix blocks I checked it out this week.

The setup screen is very simple to use – here it is

us-dns-netflix

You basically sign up for an account, change your DNS servers and then select the version of Netflix you require.  That’s all there is to it and then you visit Netflix you’ll be redirected to the region you selected.  Of course most people will choose the US version which has more content than any other.  However it’s useful to have access to the other locations as well because there are certain titles only available on certain regions.  Netflix Canada for example has some great documentaries which are not available on any other regions.

I tried the US, Canadian and UK versions and all streamed perfectly.  There is also a setting to disable which means you will go to the Netflix locale that you’re actually located in – which is useful for people who just want to use it when they are travelling.

If you’re quick Unblock-Us even has a free trial at the moment so you can test it out a real Free Smart DNS Netflix solution.   You can access the trial through the link below.

You can try the free trial of the only working Smart DNS Netflix solution for yourself here.

 

 

 

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The Netflix VPN Ban

It was always quite an anomaly, for several years before Netflix was actually available in Australia – there were over a quarter of a million registered users there.    If you tried to access any version of Netflix there, you’d be blocked and told that it wasn’t available there yet.  So how come there were hundreds of thousands of Aussie subscribers? Well the simple fact was that all these people got fed up of waiting for Netflix and simply used one of the better VPN services usually located in the USA.

Better VPN

The idea was, you start your VPN service first and connect through to a US based VPN server and then you’d be able to access the US version of Netflix using your subscriber account.   Of course, Netflix knew about this – suddenly hundreds of thousands of accounts were created using Aussie based bank accounts and credit cards – but they still paid for the service so nobody really minded much.   The same trick was used by millions across the world – either to access Netflix from somewhere it wasn’t launched in or to access a different locale version – until the Netflix VPN ban hit the world,  when they banned all VPNs from everywhere!

The Netflix VPN Ban – Why and How?

So why did Netflix take such a draconian measure after all people weren’t stealing the service, they still paid for a valid subscription simply accessed from another country? The problem lies with the ways that licensing works, all the non-Netflix movies, TV shows and documentaries are individually licensed on a per country basis. So Netflix may have the license to broadcast a particular movie in the US but not in Europe so they have to segregate their services.

Unfortunately this means that the smaller countries often have vastly inferior versions of Netflix despite the subscription being the same worldwide. The companies who own the broadcast rights got fed up with people in different countries simply using a VPN or proxy to bypass these licensing issues and put some pretty heavy pressure on Netflix to block access.

residentialipaddresses

This they have done, now nearly every VPN and proxy service has been blocked from accessing the Netflix service. They instigated a global block on accessing their servers using commercial IP addresses which included 99.9% of all the VPN services – suddenly everyone had to go back to their own regional version of Netflix. Which was ok if you are in the US which has a fantastic selection but not so much if you were perhaps an ex-pat accessing from a small European country.

The Netflix VPN ban on these services was incredibly effective and perhaps shows a model for region locking which other companies may follow. Previously people like the BBC had tried to block VPN services by individually identifying their IP addresses but it never worked for long as they simply be swapped out.

There are still some of the better VPN service which are still working, a small selection of VPN companies like IDC have implemented servers with residential IP addresses to bypass the Netflix VPN block.  You can also read about another firm which has managed to get a Smart DNS Netflix solution working too.

Most though have simply given up as these addresses are much more expensive and harder to obtain unless you are a registered ISP.  So if you want to access a different version of Netflix you should ask your provider if their service still works with Netflix as the majority don’t.

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How to Bypass the Netflix Block

It’s cunning, it’s sneaky and has caused much sadness among movie fans across the world, I’m referring to Netflix suddenly blocking virtually every single VPN and proxy service.   Slowly it’s become harder and harder to find a reliable proxy service to access the wonders of USA Netflix and last month became pretty much impossible.   However on the internet it’s very difficult to block everyone and when the secret is out, you’re back to square one.

How to Bypass the Netflix Block

Well first it’s important to understand the method, how does Netflix block VPNs is the question but also the solution too. In fact it’s actually not as sophisticated as you might have thought, but it’s definitely pretty effective.

Netflix had previously followed the standard route of big media company wanting to block people like you and me trying to get round their region locks so they could watch the best movies with their NETFLIX SUBSCRIPTION. This was a combination of picking out the high profile VPNs – the services who advertise on social media and PPC plus manual identification of IP addresses with multiple streams. It works to an extent but is very time consuming and the VPN/proxy services simply switch addresses when required so that it becomes a constant battle.

However instead of pursuing this tactic indefinitely, Netflix chose another option and decided to target the classification as well as the location of the IP address. They simply blocked all ‘commercial’ classified IP addresses – which meant that anyone using an address held by a commercial organisation would not be able to access Netflix wherever they happened to be.

So every standard residential IP address would be allowed through but all the addresses from commercial enterprises were blocked across the board. These included virtually every data center too so all the VPN suddenly stopped working almost overnight. The only addresses that now worked were the ones classified as residential which are mostly allocated through ISPs directly to home users.

For a VPN service to continue to work with Netflix in any capacity it needed access to these residential IP addresses. Without these addresses it is impossible to bypass the Netflix block at at all. Fortunately a couple of companies seem to have gained access to these and introduced them into their server infrastructure effectively regaining access – one of them is Identity Cloaker which has enabled UK and USA residential IP addresses for Netflix users only.

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Netflix Blocked VPN and Proxies – What Now?

Surely it cannot be true! Is Netflix blocking VPNs and proxies? Are we doomed to be locked into our own crap region of Netflix or even worse are people outside the Netflix coverage locked out completely. Well the simple answer is yes, at the moment Netflix is investing a huge amount of time and resources in blocking not just proxies – they’re also blocking VPN services too!

It’s come as a bit of a shock for many, most people go through the following stages with most region locked content.

  1. Annoyance – tried to watch a show, video or broadcast online somewhere like YouTube, BBC or Netflix and got blocked.
  2. Research – learn about region locking and finding out that it’s simply based on the location of your IP address
  3. Solution – realising that if you hide your IP address by using a VPN or proxy will bypass all these blocks and let you watch whatever the hell you want!

Once you reach the last stage all those annoying blocks and filters simply disappear.   You can watch anything from anywhere, irrespective of your location – for example I have sat in a Spanish bar watching the News on the BBC (UK IP address), then switched to an American IP to watch the US version of Netflix then watch some football on RTE (the Irish Broadcaster).    Without a suitable VPN service none of these would be possible, for me it makes a massive difference to my viewing options.

Netflix Blocks Proxies and VPNS

Now over the years, many of these online broadcasters have made various attempts to thwart these efforts.  In fact it would probably be safe to say the use of very simple proxy servers are now pretty much gone as far as bypassing region locking goes. There has been no such thing as a Netflix proxy that worked for many years, in fact the only major broadcaster who didn’t block proxies were the BBC but even they started doing this last year.   The problem is that the use of a proxy can be detected very easily by all these sites which now makes them fairly useless.

No worries, for we still had VPN services, the virtual private network connections are encrypted and almost impossible to detect.   Unfortunately these too started to suffer casualties and many broadcasters have waged a sort of half-hearted war on VPN servers too –  individually blocking the addresses of popular ones which became too mainstream.   It was never that bad though and usually you could just switch to another IP address and it would work fine.

Netflix have changed all this, they’ve really gone to war with VPN services and have actually managed to block 99% of them from working.   You’ll hear many tales of woe from people who have VPN accounts set up simply to watch the US version of Netflix which no longer work.   Netflix blocked VPN services every where, well very nearly all.

So how are Netflix blocking proxies and VPNs?

They have succeeded where many have failed by adopting a different tactic. Instead of trying to detect the VPN connections or individually identifying specific IP addresses, Netflix have focused on the origin of the VPN addresses. You see most IP addresses are grouped into two distinct groups –

  • Commercial IP Addresses – assigned from data centers for websites and commercial servers.
  • Residential IP addresses – assigned by ISPs to their customers from their internet accounts.

All the VPN and proxies came from the first category, so the VPNs all had commercial IP addresses. Netflix simply detected which group the connection was from and blocked all the commercial IP addresses whilst allowing the second category through. If you connected with a commercial IP address from a proxy or VPN to Netflix this is what you’d get this –

Netflix blocking proxies and VPNs
Suddenly almost overnight Netflix blocked VPNs, proxies and Smart DNS solutions from everywhere – they still couldn’t detect the presence of the technology – but they knew if the IP address was commercial.   However there’s a solution in this video entitled Netflix Block VPN services.

Fortunately there is some hope, a couple of the most advanced VPN systems had already identified this cause and have made plans to rectify. Identity Cloaker is one of these and have introduced code to detect when the VPN is used to connect to Netflix, when it does it is relayed through a residential IP address which is allowed through. It works perfectly and should do for the foreseeable future, although the downside is that residential IP addresses like this are much more expensive so there may be some pressure on subscriptions.

 Identity Cloaker is now one of the only VPN/Proxy services which is not blocked by Netflix.  Try the trial here.

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Using a Fast USA Proxy for AMC Zombies

There are some wonderful media sites available in the US at the moment although there are some problems for many people who want to access them online.  Many of them are now only available to cable subscribers and you need your subscription information to be able to use the site.  However some are still available and one of the best sites is the AMC channel from AMC Networks.

Not only does the AMC site not require any login or subscriptions, it also carries some of the best TV shows from the last few years, including my all time favorite Zombie drama – The Walking Dead.

fastusaproxy

However there is one small issue for some people trying to watch the AMC site and that’s the fact that it is only accessible if you’re located in the USA.  When you try and access any of the media files on the site, your IP address is checked to determine your location, if the address is outside the US then you can’t watch any of the shows at all.

Fortunately there is a solution and it’s quite a simple one – you just need to use a Fast USA proxy to hide your real location like this.

This works by relaying your internet connection through a fastusaproxy server based in the USA. Therefore when you connect to the AMC site, it will see the proxy address and not your real IP address. The video demonstrates how to use a software program called Identity Cloaker to route your connection through the US server.

It is important to use a fast server though as speed is crucial to being able to watch any media files online. Remember that the video stream has to be relayed through the proxy itself so if that server and it’s throughput is not very fast then you will experience high levels of latency and buffering if you try and watch video.

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GCHQ Allowed to Hack

There are of course, lots of laws and legislation which concern hacking all over the world. In UK they have the Computer Misuse Act and the US has the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act both can lead to heavy penalties to your wallet and liberty. Although it’s quite interesting to see how those laws apply if you’re not an individual hacker operating alone but rather a Government security agency like GCHQ for instance.

Well we’ve had some clarification after a legal challenge raised by the campaigners Privacy International who have claimed GCHQ have overstepped the mark with their internet operations which are effectively breaking European law. The case has been raised in response to the numerous revelations by Edward Snowden concerning state sponsored spying conducted by the US and UK Governments.

air-monitoring-211124_640

During the hearings, which were held by the Investigatory Powers tribunal (IPT), we heard for the first time an admission by GCHQ that they did hack computers, phones and other devices located in the UK and abroad. It’s no great surprise of course, the previous responses consisted of we are not able to ‘confirm or deny’, but it felt like progress that at least an admission was made.

There is a real worry that the countries who have the most effective and extensive privacy protection laws, are actually ignoring their own legislation when it comes down to ‘security agencies’. Many people who live in undemocratic countries with a surveillance culture will even buy a proxy to route their information through the UK or USA.

Unfortunately rather than ruling against GCHQ they actually have approved their behaviour presumably including the siphoning of huge amounts of private individuals data. The IPT ruled that the the security agencies conduct was lawful and proportionate.  It also looked at the new code of practice for hacking or it’s legal description – ‘equipment interference’ published by the Home Office and deemed this a suitable operating policy.

It all seems rather establishment condoning the behaviour of another part of the establishment, although the panel of senior judges was supposed to be independant.

Privacy International who were backed by seven ISPs were understandably disappointed by the ruling and said that they would continue to challenge ‘state sponsored hacking’ attempts in order to protect democratic and principles of human rights.

The whole affair seems doomed to failure, the judges quickly siding with the government, the working guidelines which were deemed unnecessary before the spying  revelations of the whistleblower Snowden.  The way these guidelines were instantly rubber stamped by the same group of ‘senior judges’ is extremely convenient and certainly don’t legitimize most of the hacking conducted by GCHQ.

State condoned hacking on a wide scale is  sinister and anti democratic, it also undermines computers and the internet much the same way that bugging every telephone would the phone system.  For people concerned about their privacy and security, who invest in security products, it is perhaps best now to look away from using a British VPN and perhaps look at one based in  a more democratic society instead.