Although I’ve worked in IT for many years, for much of that time managing IP addresses wasn’t really that much more than an admin task to be completed. In my earlier career many corporate network administrators didn’t really trust or use DHCP and assigning IP addresses individually was typically very common.
This led to a huge lead in time for assigning anything new on the network, you couldn’t just plug a PC onto the network and it would work – no forms needed to be filled in and requests for IP allocation had to take place, often from a huge IP address spreadsheet. Nowadays this wouldn’t really work, there are so many devices on most networks that managing the addresses manually would take forever.
When the internet arrived in the early 90s of course, IP addresses became much more important – simply because each and every device needs a unique address to communicate. Suddenly the IP address took on a whole new significance, it was now your unique identifier and it could be used to monitor how long you spent online, what you downloaded and web sites you visited.
Not only that but your address is recorded in all sorts of places and people to customise, monitor and effectively control your online activities. Take for example something as simple as visiting Google and searching for something – have you ever noticed how your web results display local results? This is because Google is recording your location and using that information to tailor your search results. Of course this is useful but your address will also be used to block access or filter content too.
So it’s not surprising that some people get unnerved by this surveillance and use devices like I use in this video – How to Block my IP address
Of course using a system like this whilst stopping your address being logged will also have other effects. For example if you’re hiding behind a US IP address and are based in France you’ll get redirected on that basis. It can be a pain being directed to US sites by default, when you really want the French version. So it’s best to try and use a VPN server in the same country unless you want it to bypass geoblocked sites like BBC and Hulu.
These are among the many thousands of major media sites which will block access based on your location. However switching countries can in this circumstance work to your advantage, use a UK one to watch the BBC online, a US one to access Hulu and etc.