It’s often a shock, after all why offer an online version of the BBC and then block anyone who isn’t in the UK. But for many trying to access BBC Iplayer when they’re abroad becomes a bit of a challenge, you know it’s possible but connecting up can be difficult. The search usually leads to things like VPNs and proxies, which for anyone living abroad are now essential – they basically give you access to all the best media sites online – irrespective of your location and IP address. So when the BBC, Hulu, ABC or M6 Replay checks your location and IP address and then decide what you can see – the proxy or VPN just tells them what they need to see – and allows you access.
For instance, I was recently in Spain with my work and got kinda bored staying in a hotel. So decided to watch some UK television online using my laptop. Unfortunately I then discovered that because I then had a Spanish IP address (from the hotels Wifi), I was now blocked from all the best UK websites like the BBC Iplayer and ITV etc. It was kind of annoying until I discovered there was a solution and an easy one at that.
By the way if you don’t know why people are so keen to get access to BBC Iplayer – you should really check it out. It’s without doubt one of the best media resources available online, in fact I don’t think anything comes close although there are some excellent US sites like Hulu and Pandora for music.
Anyway for those of us who either live or travel abroad a lot, having access to these sites is a godsend. You don’t have to sit watching a TV show in a language you don’t understand or some awful cable channel.
So What is the Solution to Watching BBC IPlayer Abroad?
Basically the problem is your IP address, everyone is linked to a specific country and it’s very easy to look up. Many websites look your location up as soon as you access their site, they then tailor what you can see based on that information. It’s called Geotargeting and frankly it’s extremely annoying – you’ll normally get an error message like the image below.
Or perhaps this one if you try and access Pandora outside the US.
The way around it is quite simple, you just have to make the website think your in a different country by using an IP address from the required country. Unfortunately you can’t modify your own address easily as this is assigned by your ISP. However you can connect via a proxy server based in the correct country and use it’s address.
So for example to watch BBC Iplayer outside the UK you’d connect through a UK proxy. If you wanted to watch Hulu from outside the US then you’d need a USA proxy, Pandora needs an American one too and so on.
It’s really that simple – the website sees the IP address of the proxy server and not your real one. This short video shows the steps –
Where do I get a Proxy Server to Watch Iplayer or Hulu?
There’s a few options depending on time and budget. You can find some free ones online if you search – however it takes a long time to find one in the right country and fast enough to relay video through. In reality you’ll be best to settle on one of the many services that are available. A commercial service should be plenty fast enough and you know it will always be working when you want to watch something.
The one I use is Identity Cloaker which has been around for many years – it’s way better than any of the TV watching services and does much more. Try the trial first if you are unsure to test it out –
Identity Cloaker 10 day trial – it gives you access to all the top media sites in UK, USA, France, Canada and Germany to name only a few.
There’s lots of little fancy media streaming devices out now, but for many people looking for something quick and simple to watch online stations like the BBC Iplayer on their TV screen – then a good option is the Nintendo Wii. Many people already have these and they stream media as well as most commercial devices.
But of course just like your computer most of these online channels are restricted to the country they are broadcast from – so you need to be in the USA for Hulu, the United Kingdom for BBC Iplayer and so on.
It’s of course easy to bypass these blocks using a security program like Identity Cloaker on a PC, you just click on the country you want to be in, but can you use the same functionality on other devices such as the Nintendo Wii?
Well the simple answer is yes ! In fact you can switch the location of your Wii to any country where they have a server based – e.g. France, United Kingdom, USA, Canada or Australia for example – so use a US proxy site or a UK one depending on your needs. This also works for some of the other commercial VPN/proxy services, just ask their support desks for help.
So here’s how it works for watching BBC Iplayer on a Nintendo Wii in the USA by using Identity Cloaker.
Obviously you’ll need to connect your Wii to the internet first, which is fairly straight forward. If you’re actually in the UK then all you need to do is go to the shopping channel from the main screen and download the BBC Iplayer channel and that’s it.
For Anyone Outside the United Kingdom – it’s slightly more complicated as you won’t be able to see that channel available. First of all change your country settings –
Wii Options> Wii Settings> Country> Change to UK
This is what controls what’s in the shopping channel – when set to the UK you’ll be able to download BBC Iplayer, you can change it back after if needed.
However this won’t fool the BBC Iplayer website if you’re not in the UK, because it will check your IP address when you try and watch anything. To do this you have to hide your real address and connect using a server based in the United Kingdom.
I will do this using my Identity Cloaker account as follows –
- Go to the Wii System Settings Page and select the Internet connection tab.
- Select the connection you are using and scroll down to proxy server settings.
- Enable the Proxy Server and select advanced settings
- Pick one of the IP address of an Identity Cloaker UK server and use Port 4040
- Input Your Identity Cloaker – Username and Password
- Save Settings and then Watch the BBC
You can get the IP address and your username/password from the Identity Cloaker support team or it’s listed in the members area. If you’re using a different service just contact their support for the same information – as long as they accept authentication in this manner then they all should work.
At the moment the press is full of the stories of cyber spying, surveillance and the NSA whistleblower – William Binney. Fair play to the man, it takes courage to stand up against the NSA but he’s definitely not the first. This particular organisation have been spying on our internet traffic for years and the huge spying complex being completed in Utah is merely the centralization of a spying network which has been up and running for many years. I am of course referring to the infamous Room 641A in San Francisco which was brought to the public attention by another brave whistle blower – Mark Klein.
Mark Klein was a contractor like William Binney working in AT&Ts switching center – a major part of the US internet backbone, when he became aware of a particular room in this building run by the NSA. Room 641A had been set up as a network tap, with effectively all the internet traffic that passed through this center being copied and routed into this room.
Inside the high security of this room sat a device called the Narus STA 6400 – a device capable of intercepting and analysing huge amounts of network traffic. No prizes for guessing what was going on here then! Mark Klein, gathered some proof together and exposed the room and it’s function to the world, leading to a court case brought by the EFF.
William Binney has brought the story up to date, and demonstrates that the NSA have never really stopped gathering this data. Here’s the story from Democracy Now – (edited ‘cos they deserve a link!)
The reality is that this new facility is no real secret, nor the methods being utilized by the world’s security organisations. There were lots of ‘Room 641As’ all across the US and indeed the world, capturing, logging and storing details of all the network traffic on the planet. It was always going to happen anyway, at least while we used an open, distributed and shared network like the internet to communicate.
The Mark Klein episode was nearly a decade ago now, and obviously just rooms are not quite enough nowadays. There’s lots of talk about legality, permission and here in the UK the Foreign Minister insisting that legal due process is always followed. The reality is that it’s much, much easier for a security organisation to capture all traffic – emails, web browsing, phone calls, search enquiries and everything else than it is to selectively capture the communications of individual suspects. Far simpler to dump the whole lot into huge databases and then data mine, or search for the information you require. If they could somehow just harvest ‘terrorist related data’ then I’m sure nobody would mind very much but they can’t. The data is ours –
this data is your web history, your emails, your search history – what you do online – at anytime from anywhere.
Had a few drinks? Watched Zero Dark 30? Then proceeded to flounder around the web using lots of ‘terrorist keywords’ . Well it doesn’t matter if you’re a kitchen fitter from Manchester – you’ll raise a few flags on a database somewhere…..and it could very well be via PRISM and the NSA, who might mention it to GCHQ!
Anyone who would believe that all this data would sit untouched, unmonitored and unanalysed until it’s needed is I’m afraid sadly deluded. Effectively we’re all turned into suspects – the PRISM project and the huge UTAH surveillance center changes nothing except perhaps the efficiency and scope.
So that’s it, all semblances of privacy whilst using any form of electronic communication gone. Millions of people’s privacy waved aside on the chance of catching the odd terrorist now and again. Of course there is another issue there, there are ways of keeping your privacy even now such as using a VPN. The methods of using security products, VPNs, false IP addresses and encryption can ensure that your data is not accessible by these broad sweeping exercises. Of course this is what the terrorists will do, at least the ones with a half a brain cell between them.
Which leads to the conclusion that the NSA will most only be snooping on the innocent….
Another post for those missing their favorite TV channels just because they are outside their home country. This ones about accessing RTE from the US, or in fact anywhere that’s outside the Irish Republic. RTE player is a great little site linked to the Irish National broadcaster – RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann).
As usual though if you’re not actually in Ireland when connecting to the website then it won’t work for you, although you can access some of the radio content and sometimes the Irish news. I always think this is a bit strange as the people who will want to watch things like RTE and the GAA over the internet will mostly be Irish people living in places like the UK and USA!
So How Do I Watch RTE in the US/UK?
It’s not actually that hard to do, when you connect to RTE player the site determines your location. It does this by checking the location of your IP address – if it’s an Irish IP then fine but anywhere else and you get redirected to the international version of RTE player which blocks most of the decent shows and all the sport like GAA.
So all you need to do is change your IP address to an Irish one. It’s actually not that easy to change your real IP address as it’s controlled by your ISP and is linked to the country you connect from. Fortunately there is another way, and that is connecting via a VPN or proxy server, when you do this the web site see’s the servers address and not your real one. So if the VPN server is in Ireland, you will also appear to be in Ireland and all Irish only resources like RTE Player will work just fine.
There are quite a few companies who offer these services, but only a handful worth considering especially if you need an Irish IP address. Here’s the one I use a security program called Identity Cloaker. I like it because it’s well priced and has lots of fast servers in different countries which is useful for accessing sites like BBC Iplayer, Hulu etc which also block access from outside countries.
It’s a little program which sits in the taskbar and you simply select the country you need to connect to –
So for RTE we’d obviously select one of the Irish servers and then press connect. You then open your browser as normal, and when you visit the RTE player site, you’ll get the Irish version of the site rather than the International one simply based on your IP address.
Using the Irish server you can watch anything on the site as RTE considers your location to be Ireland.
It’s extremely easy to use and the servers are very fast which is essential if you’re going to be streaming video across them. You can also access some fantastic sites in other countries simply by selecting the matching country – try Hulu by using a USA proxy, BBC Iplayer in the UK or there’s some great online TV stations in Canada and France for example. They’re all included in the subscription which only costs a few dollars – here’s the program in action.
If you want to access RTE in the US then give them a go, you can get a 10 day trial here, which only costs a few bucks.
If you’re looking for a super secure, highly anonymous proxy then it can be rather confusing. After all what does constitute such a server, there are no real definitions only opinions.
The first thing to be aware of is that if someone just adds the word secure or highly secure to their description it means nothing. There are literally thousands of one page proxy servers running as default installations on some free web hosting space which describe themselves as secure – they are not. To keep a proxy secure needs time, technical skill and a very real commitment to keeping the infrastructure secure.
For instance, there are loads of people running proxies who never even consider the question of which user context the proxy should be running in. It’s actually very important but surprisingly a huge number of people run their proxy services as root.
This is a very bad idea, not only does this potentially give an attacker a very real chance of obtaining complete control not only to the proxy but the server it runs on. The slightest bug or vulnerability in the service can be exploited – there goes the server, the data, user accounts and logs.
A Step Towards a Properly Secure Proxy
Someone more security aware might run the proxy service in the context of the ‘nobody’ user. The advantage of this account is that it has no real administrative rights or privileges and there the integrity of the server is maintained even if the account is compromised. It does have some rights though and can access public directories and any other directories or services running in the ‘nobody’ user context.
But the real secure way is to create a dedicated user account specifically to run the proxy server in. It would have no other function and importantly no other rights or permissions applied. This protects the server, the logs and any users data that may be on the machine. It’s a simple point but a fundamental step in running a truly secure proxy server and giving you a secure IP address to use – 99% of the proxies you find online won’t be set up like this.
The unfortunate thing is that people tend to imagine that a proxy server that obscures your IP address adds a level of security and anonymity automatically. This is simply not the case and a badly configured proxy is far worse than using no proxy at all. Remember that when you use a proxy server all your data is diverted through that server and everything is probably logged too. It’s a huge risk using a badly configured server, whether it’s meant to be a simple porn proxy or highly secure VPN!
The security of the proxy server is really dependent on the technical expertise of the people who set it up and run it. You’ll never get a secure proxy server for nothing simply because professionals don’t work for free. Kids running proxies on free web space who have no concept of security – do however.
Updated Content and Tags – May 10th, 2013
If you search on the internet you’ll find many proxy sites including plenty of USA based proxies – usually they consist of loads of adverts and a little slot in the middle of the page where you type the website you want.
These sites promise you the following –
- ability to bypass firewalls
- ability to bypass content filters
In reality you’ll normally get none of these although to be fair there are some benefits. Here’s the truth about these proxies and the claimed benefits to help you make your own decision.
If you’re really concerned about security and your privacy then the answer is don’t use these websites. certainly never use them to access any site that requires passwords or personal credentials. These sites normally are set up quickly and easily using a proxy software called Glype. This is simply installed on some cheap or free hosting account and surrounded by adverts in an attempt to make money.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with that but be aware the server is not secured, they are also not highly anonymous and there will be no mention of what happens to the logs and you are trusting that website with whatever data you send through it. In reality all you are doing is adding another risk to your browsing. There are some malicious web sites which exist just to steal any credentials that are sent through it.
The claim for anonymity for these sites can be partially true if they are configured correctly. What they can protect from is the web site you are visiting storing your IP address in it’s logs. The main problem with trying to stay anonymous on the web is two fold – firstly your browsing is logged in its entirety at your ISP, secondly it’s all in clear text so is readable by anyone.
The proxies will sometimes stop your IP address being logged at the web site you visit – that’s it. But in exchange it will be logged on their server which may well be run by a 16 year old in his spare time.
Using Proxies to Bypass Firewalls
This can work in a particularly lax environment but in those cases you probably won’t need a proxy server! If the firewall just blocks access to specific IP addresses or URLs then this might work. However most environments are rather more sophisticated than that. Also the majority of web proxy sites are themselves blocked anyway. They can be useful in countries with basic blocks on popular sites like Facebook and YouTube for example.
Using Proxies to Bypass Content Filters
This is a complete non starter as no web proxy will have the slightest effect here. The problem is that although a content filter also looks for specific web sites, IP addresses and content to block it actually looks at the request itself. Most filters look inside the packet themselves so proxies will have no effect whatsoever apart from getting you flagged by the IT Admins for trying to circumvent any restrictions. There is only one way to bypass a sophisticated content filter and that’s to use a concealed proxy server plus encrypt all your data. The encryption means that the content filter can’t look inside the packet and work out the destination. So if you don’t want to have every thing you do online logged and recorded by your ISP and/or employer then encryption is a must. It’s often used when people access pornography online – particularly popular in the middle East where a porn proxy are standard because of the various blocks implemented by the Governments.
Here’s a question that many people want the answer to – How can I obtain a US IP address? Well hopefully this post will help. If you don’t want an explanation about USA proxy sites and simply want to buy a US IP address at a very low cost – then try this service – here, for a few bucks a month you can have a host of secure, fast US IP addresses plus Canadian, UK, Australian and lots of other countries at your fingertips.
Many web sites determine what you see based on your location, so for example if you want to watch Hulu – you need to be in the USA. Access is controlled by location so it doesn’t matter if you’re a US citizen, if you’re trying to access Hulu from a hotel in Rome then you’re Italian and you’ll get blocked. This is why changing your real IP address is becoming a much more common requirement, simply because that loads of the best websites restrict access depending on the location of your computer.
So for example anyone outside America may get blocked from a US banking site, and you’d certainly be blocked from accessing US-only sites like Hulu or Pandora.
More and more sites are restricting access based on location, it’s often due to licensing issues. Another reason is economic, many websites operate price discrimination (basically charging different prices to different people to maximise their profits), they obviously don’t like consumers finding the cheaper options!
So if you wanted to access a US only site and you’re outside the US, then you need to acquire a US IP Address. Then you could buy from a US only site or watch something like Hulu or Pandora irrespective of your location. Better still you could get much better value, for example the Americans Netflix is way better value than any other version. Now your IP address is assigned to you by your ISP when you initially connect, there’s no way to change this without losing internet access.
However although you can’t change your IP address – you can hide your true address and present another one. You do this by connecting via either a VPN or a proxy site, both of these will obscure your real IP address. They both operate in similar ways, the proxy server routes all your web traffic via itself and simply forwards all data in both directions. The VPN is actually a secure, encrypted tunnel which routes all traffic from your computer through the VPN server. Both have strengths and weaknesses. In reality a VPN is more difficult to detect by remote web sites, although this can involve a slight overhead on speed in some situations.
Which one you choose is really dependent on what your requirements are – a VPN gives you security and more access to remote sites. But if you just wanted to access something like the BBC or maybe to watch Canadian TV in the US then a proxy server is enough.
So perhaps we want to watch some shows on Hulu but we are based in Europe, for this particular channel a proxy won’t work as Hulu is able to detect them – so we need a VPN service. Unfortunately there are no free VPN services available unless you can access one through your employer or college. Many multinational companies have VPN/Remote access services to allow employees to access their home location. It’s worth checking this out although you should ask your IT department for clearance . Or you could make your own by installing a VPN service on a rented server or a friends US based computer.
But an easier option is to just select a VPN service which allows access to a wide variety of servers especially if you want to use it with an iPad or mobile device, check this post – Watching BBC Iplayer on Ipad in US. These services are all pretty low cost now and the best ones include servers all across the world. Here’s some things to check out when looking for a decent service :-
- Firstly check that the company have some method to allow easy connection. The decent companies have custom connection software to allow you to connect/disconnect easily.
- Make sure your subscription allows access to multiple servers in different countries included.
- Speed is essential if you’re going to use the service for watching video or any streaming media – try to choose a trial account first to test this.
- Be careful you don’t get locked into renewing accounts – use a payment system like Paypal if you can which you can cancel easily.
Unfortunately although there is now lots of choice, many of these services don’t have the knowledge and infrastructure to support high speed access. Avoid anything that seems too cheap or sponsored by advertisements, always test first with a short subscription or trial.
I basically use two different services which offer both proxy and VPN functionality at a decent price. Basically these will give you access to a network of USA proxy servers plus loads of different nationalities at a click of a button
Identity Cloaker is primarily a security product but offers both proxy and VPN modes for accessing BBC Iplayer, Hulu and all media sites. They have loads of US and even more UK based servers so if you want to watch the BBC Iplayer service then it’s probably your best option. They do have lots of servers in the France, Germany, Australia, Canada and throughout Europe as well though. They also don’t automatically renew your subscription either which I like.
Overplay is another great little company, I like their connection software which is easy to use. Lots of US servers included in the standard subscription. They also have the widest selection of servers although perhaps many won’t use most of them. If you need a server in somewhere unusual they are most likely to have them. The support staff know their stuff and are very helpful.
Both these companies allow Paypal and are easy to cancel when you need. They also had the fastest servers out of the ones I looked at. Don’t worry that they don’t openly advertise the bypassing functionality for sites like Hulu, BBC, ABC etc – it’s deliberate, the services which openly promote this functionality get closed down eventually.
I’m not sure of everyone else but when I hear that someone has been convicted of blasphemy, I instantly think it refers to the medieval ages or at least a long time ago. However this latest news story refers to a composer and pianist who has been convicted of blasphemy by a supposedly secular Turkish court.
The court has convicted the pianist and composer – Fazil Say of blasphemy and inciting hatred, for a series of Tweets that he made last year. The ten month sentence has been suspended however any similar offence would mean he’d be imprisoned, in a Turkish prison.
So what did he say ?
Well one message he tweeted a verse from a Persian poet called Omar Khayyam which attacks the pious and their hypocrisy. I’m not sure if anything happened to Omar but it sounds like 11th Century Persia was a little bit open minded about free speech than present day Turkey.
Other tweets made fun of certain religious practices and in particular teasing people about the Muezzin (the Muslim call to to prayer). All this apparently amounts to blasphemy in the country that was once a beacon for secular rule and free speech in the Muslim world.
Of course the fact that Fazil Say had been openly critical of the ruling party and the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may have something to do with this ridiculous ruling. Other artists and intellectuals are increasing being targeted for any criticisms voiced in public.
Turkey is a wonderful country, however the ideals set out by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk seem to be slowly losing their importance in this country.
I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will; every man can follow his own conscience, provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him against the liberty of his fellow-men.
Many organisations have expressed concern, including the European Union. The EU Foreign Policy chief suggested that Turkey must respect the principle of freedom of speech. Fazil Say has not commented much yet, other than to express his disappointment at the ruling. He has suggested previously that he would leave the country if convicted, which of course as an International star he is able to do.
I know lots of Turkish people and have family there, this decision will not be popular. Turkish people are relaxed, fair minded and value freedom of expression as much as anyone. But the sad reality is that slowly Turkey becoming a society where people are scared to speak their mind. Slowly the internet is becoming more and more filtered in Turkey mainly due to pressure from religious groups. If you want to surf the internet without Government filters and controls you will already need to use something like a USA proxy server or similar.
I’ve started to leave my laptop at home nowadays in preference to the wonderful iPad I bought last year. After I got used to the fear of dropping it, it’s become an essential companion – much easier to carry than a laptop, starts up immediately and is basically just a joy for a traveler.
Of course there are limitations, including the well documented Flash problem. However one of my main issues was the fact when I travelled to the USA, lots of my UK sites like BBC Iplayer and ITV just wouldn’t work. Now this isn’t a problem with the iPad specifically but it’s due to the fact that most of the UK media sites block access to anyone outside Great Britain. So I had to figure out how to change my IP address to a UK one by using proxies or VPNs to bypass these blocks.
Watching Iplayer using an IPad VPN
Now I work in IT Security and one of my favorite tools is Identity Cloaker which I also use to bypass all these location blocks. It works great on my laptop and PC but the software wasn’t currently available for the Mac OS or iPpad. However fortunately all of their servers including the US ones are VPN enabled – so all I needed to do was connect to one of those.
Anyway here’s the steps I followed to watch BBC Iplayer from the US –
- Select Settings
- Select General
- Select Networks
- Select VPN
All being well – you’ll be at this screen
So in this screen you can already see one VPN already set up – this one is for the US. But I need to add a UK one so –
Click – Add VPN Configuration
You should then find yourself in this screen –
Looks a little confusing but it’s not actually that difficult. Now two pieces of information are not published by Identity Cloaker for security reasons – but these are in the members area when you log in or email and ask for help if needed.
Here’s how you fill the fields in –
- Description – Give it a descriptive name – usually country name is best.
- Server – This is in the member area for Identity Cloaker users- UK VPN server names
- Account Name – Your Identity Cloaker Username
- RSA SecurID – Ignore this
- Password – Your IDC password.
- Secret – This is in members area for Identity Cloaker users under – VPN Secret Name
That’s all there is to it – just remember to Save the VPN configuration before you exit. It is there ready for you to use, whenever you need a UK address then you just enable the VPN as follows.
So to enable the VPN just turn it on from this screen, switch the slider to on. In this situation we would turn the British one on so we can watch BBC Iplayer outside the UK. Remember when you enable the VPN all data is routed through that server down an encrypted tunnel. You may want to disconnect to do your normal browsing after – although you should use it for secure browsing – online banking etc. It’s great for switching between versions of Netflix to personally I always change to the US version of Netflix.
When the VPN is enabled properly then you should see this in the top left corner of your Ipad.
This method will probably work with other proxy/VPN subscription services as long as their servers are set up for VPN access – just ask them for the information you need. To get access on a laptop or PC then check out this other post – BBC Iplayer outside UK.
Or there’s a good video on Youtube –
It’s called – VPN on an iPad.
If you haven’t got an Identity Cloaker subscription – it’s best to try this cheap ten day trial first to make sure you can get it working.
Updated – included extra information on VPN