What is geoblocking?
Geo-blocking is the process of restricting user access to the Internet based on their physical location. It is typically implemented by telecommunications companies, websites, and other content providers and intellectual property owners, often for copyright reasons. Databases that map the physical locations of IP addresses are often used to manage and enforce geoblocks.
Geo-blocking often uses encryption to protect content that is only intended for specific regions. The practice has faced a number of challenges throughout its history. A notable example is the case of a German student who tried to purchase UK geoblocked content from Sky TV in the early 1990s only to be rejected by the company. The student then studied Sky TV's proprietary encryption tool and developed Season7, decryption software that enabled viewers across Europe to access Sky TV's content for free.
Although many major content providers (e.g. Netflix) continue to use geo-blocking, a number of different methods (e.g. virtual private networks) can be used to circumvent the restrictions.