HappyVPN Against Site Blockade

Internet service providers in Belgium have expanded their blockade of torrent sites. Belgium has been one of the most active countries to implement anti-piracy policies since 2011. For users who need to unblock access to websites from Belgium, HappyVPN explains how.

Belgian Torrent Site Blockade

HappyVPN shares the news that late this past August, Belgian ISPs implemented additional blocks on torrent sites including Kat.ph, ExtraTorrent, BitSnoop and H33T. Anyone attempting to access these torrent sites from Belgium will instead see a notice that explains that access is not permitted to these websites because they have been deemed illegal under Belgian law. HappyVPN explains that the blocking of torrent sites began in 2011 when Belgium was one of the first countries to obey a court order to block the Pirate Bay website.

The 2011 block began when the Belgian Anti-Piracy Foundation (BAF) filed a case against Belgacom and Telenet, two Belgian Internet service providers. The BAF’s goal was to make these Internet service providers block access to the Pirate Bay. The court originally ruled that the action was wholesale site blocking and therefore disproportionate, but this decision was appealed and later overturned. HappyVPN reported that many users of the Pirate Bay website sought either alternative means of access or alternative torrent sites. BAF took notice of these actions, and as a result, the most visited alternative torrent sites have now also been blocked.

From the fourth weekend of August, reports came in from millions of Belgian Internet users regarding the loss of access to many popular torrent sites. Kat.ph, BitSnoop, ExtraTorrent and H33T are among those confirmed to have been blocked by Internet service providers Belgacom and Telenet. Some sites are still available, however, such as KAT’s alternative website Kickass.to, which is a high traffic site in Belgium, and the newest Pirate Bay domain. The blocks come along with a message from Belgacom and Telenet, complete with police logos and an explanatory message. The message states that the website is illegal, but that site owners or administrators can send a fax to +32(0)2/733.56.16 if they feel there has been a mistake.

Blockade

Unblocking Website Access

HappyVPN explains that generally, blocking access to websites is a simple matter. Either the website rejects the user because of their location, or a filter is placed on the user’s connection to prevent access to the website. In either case, unblocking access is also a simple matter of assigning a different IP address to the user. Most people use proxy servers to circumvent these blocks. A proxy server is as a remote middle-man that poses as the user when requesting content. If the website is looking for users from a specific country only, the proxy server located in that country will give the website the impression that the user is indeed located in that country. If the Internet service provider disallows access to certain websites, the proxy server will make the user appear to be coming from elsewhere and therefore will not be blocked. There are three main types of proxies, listed below along with their good and bad points as explained by HappyVPN:

VPNs

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the most advanced among the three proxy technologies. They were created for privacy and security, and so provide the highest level of online anonymity. Many of the newest VPN services are software-based, putting a greater degree of control in the users’ hands. This makes VPNs very easy to set up and use, a good choice for every type of Internet user. The user can connect to any available server from their VPN provider at any time within a few minutes to get an IP from whatever country in the world they want to appear to be from. Different providers offer different country servers, so please check this page to see the details on their varied offerings. There is also a variety of VPN packages available, including features like unlimited speed and bandwidth. VPNs also provide additional benefits. VPNs support all Internet enabled programs on any device, so they can unblock all services fully and completely, not just websites.

Web Proxies

Web proxies are accessible through websites. Many of them offer their services for free, and are advantageous if users do not need secure connections and are not bothered by a constant flow of advertisements. In cases where people need to access blocked content only once in a while or are not worries about getting caught bypassing filters, they work well. The problem with most free web proxies is that connection can be very difficult during peak times and they tend to be very slow. They do not work well for online video streaming and downloads will take a long time to complete. Many users also report errors because of the unreliable speeds and frequent connection cuts. The best web proxies offer encryption and run at sufficient speeds to stream video content. But web proxies only work for unblocking websites, and will not unblock torrents or Skype. And some blocked websites like Facebook are too complex to be displayed properly by a web proxy, and some features will not work.

IP Proxies

An IP proxy is a method of telling a browser to channel all activity to a proxy server before requesting content from the web. If the user can keep a separate browser dedicated to connecting to one proxy, unblocking websites can be simple. IP proxies are often slow and can cut out unexpectedly for indefinite periods. They are also public servers, so the user does not know whose computer their data is passing through. This can be very dangerous as IP proxy administrators have been knows to steal and sell user data and infect devices with malware, and also to report users to the authorities when requested. IP proxies do not offer users any degree of reliability or security other than the ability to display complex sites.

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