While Time Warner Cable and CBS continue to bicker over the fee that TWC pays the nation's most popular network to carry its programming, TWC customers are blocked from viewing the nation's most popular network both on their TVs via cable as well as on their computers at CBS.com. But there's a simple solution: Don't let CBS know you're a TWC customer.
All you need is a proxy service — an Internet connection that routes your traffic through a server to obscure its origin. At least then you can watch on your computer.
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Proxies aren't just for watching "NCIS" and the "Big Bang Theory." They allow people who live under far-greater Internet restrictions — say, in China — to access blocked sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It's also a way for you to obscure your identity from hackers or possible government snoops.
How to set up a proxy service
There are many proxy services that offer access for free. But that's generally for basic Web access. Streaming video is data-intensive and something companies may charge an upgrade fee for.
Among proxy services, Hide My Ass is fairly popular, complete with a hat-and-sunglasses-wearing donkey mascot. HMA is a small download that's a cinch to set up on PCs and Macs. All you do is click to install and click one button to turn on the proxy. (Setting it up on iOS and Android devices is trickier and requires manual configuration.)
HMA's paid service, Pro VPN, costs $11.52 per month, although it's currently on sale for $9.99 (less if you sign up for six or 12 months). VPN also encrypts your Internet connection when you're on inherently insecure public Wi-Fi networks.
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A proxy service not only gets you past the CBS censor, which blocks you based on your ISP, but also past geographic restrictions based on your country, such as the blocking of BBC iPlayer video outside of the U.K. or Hulu outside the United States. In the HMA app, just pick a proxy server in one of those countries, and you're in.
Is using a proxy legal?
"So — they have the right to say 'you can't watch our stuff' for any reason. That's pretty clear," said Jeremy Toeman, CEO of digital TV guide service Dijit Media and digital TV industry veteran.
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