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A virtual private network (VPN) boosts security and privacy anywhere in the world. If you live in the United Kingdom or are visiting, there are extra reasons why you should use one.

A VPN lets your machine communicate securely with a remote server. No one else can tell what sites you access or what data you send and receive. The server can be in another country, beyond the reach of local authorities. Surfshark offers a VPN in the UK with servers worldwide, giving you reliable, private, secure Internet access at a low price.

Privacy

The law in the UK gives Internet users little privacy. Service providers have to record every customer’s browsing history and retain it for up to a year. The law requires decryption on demand when “practicable.” The government has broad surveillance powers.

This situation isn’t of concern just to criminals. Unusual browsing patterns, such as research into terrorism, can put innocent people under suspicion. The decryption obligation can discourage the use of unbreakable encryption. The existence of the law makes users less safe not just from the government but from criminals who want to grab those troves of data on people.

When you use a VPN, all that an ISP sees is that you’veconnected to its IP address. It can’t tell what sites you visit, what mail you send, or anything else. A trustworthy VPN provider, such as Surfshark, doesn’t keep logs on you.

Domain blocking

Internet service providers in Britain are under government pressure to block domains under vaguely defined criteria. Sites dealing with sexual health and education, protection of victims, and feminism have often been blocked as “adult content.” Users in the UK can opt-out of blocking, but they might well find it intimidating to ask. When a user is a guest on someone else’s network, opting out isn’t an option.

A VPN with a server outside the UK bypasses these barriers. The user can access any website without asking for permission.

Using Wi-Fi safely

Free public Wi-Fi is widely available in the UK. It’s available on trams, buses, and trains. Like password-free Wi-Fi everywhere else, it has no security. If you use it on a train trip, hundreds of people are within range of your communication, and anyone with a little technical knowledge can intercept it. Even altering the content isn’ta huge challenge.

A VPN is a must when using public Wi-Fi. It encrypts all communications, making local interception virtually impossible. It bypasses filtering and ad injection by the Wi-Fi provider.

Beating geographic content limitations

Licensing restrictions limit where providers such as Netflix can make movies and TV series available. Sometimes a show’s distributor makes an exclusive arrangement with one streaming site. Sometimes a local licensor wants too much money.

Many shows on Netflix are available in the USA, but not in the United Kingdom. Sometimes the reverse is the case. When you can choose a VPN server in either country, you can view content as if you were there.

You may run into annoying restrictions when you live in the UK and travel abroad. ITV is mostly blocked against users in other countries. Being a citizen doesn’t help, but having a VPN does. You can connect to a server back in Britain and watch ITV channels as they are broadcast.

Streaming providers try to detect and defeat VPNs. Make sure that the provider you choose lets you reach the content you want. Surfshark makes it a priority to keep streaming content available.

Seeing local content

Even when content isn’t restricted, websites may tailor it based on your current geolocation, relying on your IP address. When you make a trip to mainland Europe, news sites are more likely to give you stories relevant to where you are. They might be in French or German. A VPN lets you appear to be in the UK when you’re traveling, so you can see the stories which you would see back home.

Conversely, you might want to see what the news looks like to someone in Paris, Berlin, or San Francisco. When you can choose a VPN server in those locations, that’seasy to do.

Choosing your VPN provider

The benefits which you get from a VPN vary with the provider. Some protect your privacy more carefully than others. Some are faster and more consistently available than others. The prices and the geographic distribution of servers vary. Many of them offer free trials or money-back guarantees, so you can try them out before committing to one. If you choose a good VPN, it will work so smoothly you can almost forget it’s there.