Porn ban: VPN interest surges as people look for best ways to bypass ID checks

Anthony Cuthbertson
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Porn ban: VPN interest surges as people look for best ways to bypass ID checks

The recently announced identity checks to stop under-18s from visiting pornographic websites in the UK have led to a surge in interest in technology that would allow people to bypass them.

Critics claim the new rules are “disastrous” for people’s privacy and are fundamentally flawed due to the ease of which they can be circumvented using virtual private networks (VPNs).

Searches for VPNs on Google’s search engine tripled in the hours following the government’s announcement that the verification system would come into effect in July.

VPNs allow users to spoof the location of their device in order to make it appear to websites that it is in a different country or location.

This works by re-routing the traffic through various different internet servers in order to scramble and disguise the real IP address of the smartphone, tablet or computer.

By offering a private connection, VPNs have become a popular tool for journalists, whistleblowers and any other people or organisations wishing to hide their web activity from internet companies, security agencies and hackers.

A significant rise in major data breaches in recent years have also made them increasingly popular with internet users who want to better protect their private information online.

It means that anyone using a VPN when visiting adult websites affected by the porn ban can make it appear as if they are not in the UK and therefore will not be required to go through the identity checks.

While some VPN services charge people to use them, many offer free versions with limits on the amount of data that can pass through them.

Some web browsers, such as Opera, even integrate a free VPN into their platforms in order to accommodate privacy-minded users. Other VPNs, such as Invizbox, come in the form of hardware that can be plugged into a router to disguise all web traffic passing through it.