Although the internet is of course responsible for breaking down all sorts of barriers across the world, there is still a certain amount of prejudice and imbalance that exists online. Unfortunately as the internet becomes more politicized and commercial these inequalities are also starting to increase too. Take for example the commercial side, firms quickly realised that if customers noticed that they sold their products at lower prices points in certain locations, the internet could be used to take advantage of those cheaper prices. This is obviously great for the customer, but not so much for the retailer as it eradicated a powerful commercial tool of profit maximisation.
The early days of the internet were full of these little loopholes, I for one remember ordering most of my stuff from Amazon.FR rather than Amazon UK because a combination of cheaper prices and a preferential currency situation made shopping much cheaper. Many of the biggest web retailers cottoned on quite quickly about these sort of loopholes and took steps to close them. The fairest option would be to charge the same prices to everyone online, however that rarely happens with firms using other methods to block and restrict the cheaper prices depending on location. THe method used varies widely but it almost always is focussed on the location of the shopper determined by their IP address. That individual network address is used to determine your online experience and what you can or cannot do when you’re online.
This puts many people at a huge disadvantage particularly if they happen to live in a country where the state gets involved in what people do online too. People in Western democracies are used to the concept of free speech being extended online but that’s not the case for many millions who live in countries like China, Thailand and Irans for example. These are all reasons why people seek to obtain a level of anonymity online and seek to hide their location. One of the easiest way to hide your identity and the country you are based in is to choosing to buy an IP address in a different location.
Here’s an example –
The idea is that instead of any website seeing your true IP address, they instead see the false address supplied by the software. The uses are many, particularly if you engage the encryption mode in the software which protects all your data as well as your location. The ability to switch IP addresses means that anyone can bypass the various restrictions and blocks that are prevalent online. These can be extremely useful allowing people to watch geo-locked TV stations like the BBC and NBC, plus use websites that normally only allow domestic visitors access.