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Why Are Some Websites Blocked?
If you browse the web on a regular basis, you’ve probably come across at least one website at some point that – when accessed – returned a message letting you know the content isn’t available in your country. Alternatively, you might not have been able to connect to the website at all.
Why does that happen? Well, generally, there are three types of obstacles that can get in the way of you and the online content you want to see:
Geo-restrictions/Geo-blocks are restrictions used by content providers to prevent online users from certain countries from connecting to their websites or accessing specific content on their platforms.
Basically, a geo-restricted website you try to access can see what your IP address is, and since it contains information that reveals your geographical location, it knows if it needs to reject the connection request or redirect it to a different page.
So, if you were to try and access Pandora Radio from outside the US, for instance, you wouldn’t be able to do it.
Why Are Geo-Restrictions Enforced?
It’s usually because of the following reasons:
- Licensing regulations – In order for content providers to offer worldwide access to their platforms, they need to purchase licensing rights in every single country. That can be extremely expensive, so they geo-restrict their content to avoid that issue.
- Copyright regulations – Content platforms don’t always own the rights to the content they have on display. As a result, the content providers can’t make some music, shows, and movies available worldwide if the content owners are against it.
- National laws – In some countries, local content is geo-restricted to comply with the law. For example, in the UK, a lot of shows and movies are funded with taxpayer money, so they’re geo-blocked to make sure things are fair for UK citizens.
- Blackouts – Blackouts usually occur in sports in the US. An example of a blackout can be you not being able to watch a local football match on DirecTV because the event is being broadcasted locally and the local network has bought exclusive rights for broadcasting it.
2. Firewall Restrictions
Workplaces and learning institutions often like to restrict what employees/students can access on the web. They do that by having network administrators block certain websites with the network’s firewall.
Why do workplaces and learning institutions do this?
The usual excuse is to make sure employees and students are not “slacking off.” While that can be understandable, that also means employees can’t listen to music while they work (which might help them be more productive) or that students can’t relax with an episode of their favorite show during their breaks, for example.
3. Government Censorship
Sometimes, even if you would normally have access to a specific website, you might be prevented from accessing it if the government of the country you are currently in decided to block said website. In such situations, a powerful firewall might be used to block various websites. Besides that, the government might force national ISPs to blacklist certain websites to make sure users can’t connect to them.
A good example of that is China, where many websites and services (including YouTube, Gmail, Google, and Facebook) are blocked by the government. Such censorship doesn’t only happen in place like China, though. For instance, Australia also ordered ISPs to block around 128 websites back in 2017.