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YouGov – 16% of British Adults Have Used an Internet VPN or Proxy

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 (10:40 am) - Score 2,232

A recent survey of British adults by YouGov has revealed that 16% of people have used a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Proxy Server, with 48% adopting it in order to circumvent region (geo) blocking of online content and 44% using it to enhance their Internet security.

VPNs allow you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. Many people use them as an additional means of securing their connection against hackers or prying admins, which is particularly vital when accessing a network that you don’t trust or haven’t used before (e.g. public / hotel wifi).

On top of that they can also be used for circumventing website ISP censorship systems and tackling geo-blocking, such as by adopting an IP address from another country. The latter is obviously a headache for complicated content licensing agreements, such as those used by Netflix and other video / TV streaming companies.

Unsurprisingly many of the aforementioned examples rank highly in YouGov’s chart of the top reasons for using such services.

yougov_vpn_use

In reality more people have probably used a VPN or Proxy than the survey suggests because a lot of related technologies are already active inside existing networks, such certain Mobile Broadband (3G / 4G) or Public WiFi platforms. Some Internet content filtering systems also make use of proxy servers and a lot of big businesses use VPNs for their employees (remote working).

Nasra Aharchich, YouGov, said:

“The number of people using VPN is significant enough to provide a headache to those services which use region-based access. Alongside ad blockers, disposable email and private browsing, a substantial percentage of people try to go undetected online.

From brands’ point of view, this means targeting needs to be as good as possible, as the opportunity to appeal to these people is reduced to only where they are visible.”

On the flip side people and bots can also use these same services to mask their online identity while trolling other Internet users or committing potentially criminal acts, which makes them harder but not impossible to identify and stop. YouGov’s data suggests that 65% of British adults have heard of the dark web (sites only visible to encrypted TOR users), although only 6% admit to having used it but a further 6% say that they would use it in the future.

We certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see VPN use continue to grow, particularly given the UK government’s move towards mass Internet snooping (Investigatory Powers Act) and a rise in the use of network-level filtering systems by broadband ISPs, which can be used to block all sorts of different websites (both legal and illegal ones).

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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