In 2019, the VPN market was valued at 25.41 billion USD. According to current trends noted by PRNewsWire.com, this value is set to reach 75.59 billion by 2027. In a vacuum, this could be seen as just another part of the tech market seeing greater representation through more online users, but in context, it could be much more important. Instead of niche, VPNs appear set to become a significant part of the online equation, and this could have wide implications on the concept and success of geo-locking.
What is Geo Locking
Geo locking, also known as region locking, is the process whereby people from certain areas are denied access to specific websites or online services. The most commonly seen example of this in action is on YouTube, where being met by a message saying content is ‘not available in your region’ is something most of us have faced.
Such restrictions come about for many reasons, though are mostly due to international difficulties in licensing agreements. This is a complex area with many nations taking many different approaches, which makes any sort of overarching framework difficult. Too often the result, however, can be frustrating for the end-user. There are many legitimate reasons why a person might want to side-step geo-locking, and this is where VPNs come in.
“Hulu at OSCON” (CC BY 2.0) by Garrett Heath
An example of this could be from somebody with a Hulu account in America taking a holiday in Japan. Should they want to watch their service online, they might not have access to what they paid for without a VPN back home. Nobody is hurt in this scenario, so there are no downsides.
Another example of this could be seen in online betting for someone in India. These users might play on many different sites on websites like those listed at BettingGuru.in, running different bonuses like deposit matches and free spins. Traveling to the UK, these players might either have to use a VPN to withdraw winnings on some sites or wait until they arrive home.
Next-Gen VPN Adoption
VPNs, as they exist today, are cheaper than ever, and are only becoming more accessible to the less technologically inclined. Many cost only a few pounds a month, have access to thousands of worldwide servers, and come with unlimited bandwidth. Given the growing advantages that these systems offer, it’s only natural that the market continues to grow.
The question then becomes what this could mean for geo locking services. Legally, hosts are bound to certain practices, but if these practices become for naught, then the whole concept becomes a waste of time and resources. If left alone, geo locking could become largely pointless, which could create an evolve or die type of scenario.
“VPN blue” (CC BY 2.0) by Infosec Images
As for whether greater agreements could be hammered out, that much remains in question. The internet age, in the relative infancy that it’s in, makes greater agreements necessary, but this doesn’t make them easy. As mention by Forbes.com, Europe’s GDPR was one such example, as the largest collective online agreement yet that took an extremely long time to put in place. Ultimately though, this could be the only way to overcome what VPNs represent. Companies aren’t going to beat them, so what other options do they have?