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Why do you need a VPN in the UK?

Why do you need a VPN in the UK?
(Image credit: Egorov Artem/Shutterstock)

A VPN is a service that lets you hide your true identity when using the internet. It works by rerouting your internet connection through a private server and thwarting attempts to discover your network origins. UK VPN services allow citizens to evade stringent surveillance laws and browse the internet in relative safety.

With the introduction of increasingly pervasive legislation across the world, VPN services are experiencing a surge in popularity. In the UK, the government recently introduced the Investigatory Powers Act, which gives government-owned agencies the authority to compel tech companies to disclose sensitive information on their users. Here’s how the best VPN can help you protect yourself in the UK.

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Safeguarding your identity

Similar to tapping a landline connection, ISPs (internet service providers) and malicious third parties can intercept your online activity if it is left unprotected. With the introduction of the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016, government agencies in the UK can compel ISPs to disclose their logs and reveal your online activity without your consent.

VPNs use powerful encryption technology, such as AES-256, to prevent the interception of your online traffic by third parties. By rerouting your connection through a private server, VPNs also protect you from websites and social media platforms that might be tracking your location via your IP address. 

Many VPN services also have a strict no-logs policy, which prevents them from keeping a log of your activities which can then be obtained by government agencies.

Streaming geo-blocked content

With the entry of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, a lot of consumers have decided to cut the cord of cable television and switch to an entirely online entertainment experience. However, it can be difficult to access some television programs based on where you are located, with streaming services locking certain content by geographic location.

Thankfully, Netflix VPN services can help you easily bypass such restrictions by faking your current location on the internet. This means that it might be possible for a UK viewer to stream shows that are only available on Netflix US. Conversely, UK citizens travelling abroad can take advantage of VPN services to access their native shows from geo-blocked countries like India.

Bypassing internet throttling

Do you notice a sharp fall in your internet speeds when trying to download torrents via Bittorrent? This could mean that your ISP is throttling your internet activity on purpose, forcing you to put up with a network that’s slower than the one you pay for.

With a torrenting VPN or streaming VPN, you can stop your internet provider from throttling your connection speeds based on certain types of online activity. For example, if your connection tends to slow down when streaming television shows or playing online games, you can speed up your connection by using a really good VPN.

Prevent online tracking

Beyond keeping a general log of your activity for legal purposes, ISPs in the UK sometimes go a step further to actively track everything you do, with the malicious intention of selling your data to third party advertisers. Certain shady websites have been known to engage in similar practices, installing trackers on to your browser when you visit them and then tracking your activities for sale to sponsors and advertisers.

VPN connections effectively prevent the tracking of any and all online activity, be it in the hands of a certain website or your internet provider. This helps you keep your sensitive data protected and allows you some much-needed online privacy.

Which VPN do we recommend for users in the UK?

ExpressVPN stands out from the competition in terms of price, features, and value. With servers in nearly 100 countries, excellent censor-evading power, blazing connection speeds, and reliable access to multiple streaming services, ExpressVPN has everything that one would need from a VPN in the UK. 

While some users may prefer certain features of other top VPNs, it’s the best overall option for most users – and now Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free.View Deal