If you’re in the United Kingdom, there’s a new censorship scheme rolling out in July that will make it difficult to access adult content online without a hassle (at best) and serious privacy issues (at worst). Here are our favorite VPNs to help you sidestep that.
Here’s the quick summary if you’re not familiar with the matter. For several years the government in the United Kingdom has been debating implementing a nation-wide mechanism to restrict access to pornographic content to adults only. After much back and forth, such a mechanism is rolling out on July 15, 2019. The legislation’s verification requirements come with potentially serious privacy issues.
Commercial adult websites—but not other sites that have tons of adult content like Reddit and Imgur—will be required to verify that the person visiting the site is of age. The government has left the methodology open to the companies, but simple “select the year you were born and check here” mechanisms are out. So far some of the methods involve uploading a copy of your driver’s license or passport (such as the method used by the AgeID system deployed by MindGeek).
There will also be physical passes you can buy in a store to get a number you can plug in, but there’s no law compelling providers to use it. You can read more about the legislation at the BBC.
We don’t know about you, but the idea of uploading a copy of your passport to a third-party that will, most likely, have total garbage security and eventually have their database stolen sounds like an absolute privacy nightmare for any reason, but particularly so in this case. If you’re sitting there thinking “How the hell do I avoid this mess?” then you’re in luck—the law does absolutely nothing about VPNs and you can easily use one to blow right by all this censorship nonsense. (If you’ve never heard of a VPN before and you need a primer, check out this great explainer from our sister site How-To Geek on the matter.)
Here are our favorite VPNs so you can watch whatever the hell you want to watch in the UK, be it Game of Thrones or Game of Bones, the way you want it with no privacy violations. We’ve recommended the following VPNs for years and with good reason, they are feature-rich and great values.
Our Top Pick: ExpressVPN
If you’re looking for the most flexibility and options with your VPN, it’s tough to beat ExpressVPN. They have over 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries. If there’s something you want to watch, no matter how it might be geo-restricted, there’s a slim-to-none chance you’ll be unable to bounce to a new country with ExpressVPN and watch it in peace without nagging (and definitely without uploading your passport).
On top of that, it’s incredibly easy to use ExpressVPN on everything from your phone to your computer, as well as on your stand-alone devices like your Apple TV or even on your router to blanket your entire house in VPN access.
There’s a free 30-day trial and after that prices range from $12.95 a month (if you pay month-by-month) to $8.32 a month (if you pay in for a year at once).
Our Second Choice: StrongVPN
While we’re big fans of our previous choice, we’re also big fans of StrongVPN an equally competent (although not quite as expansive) VPN service. They’re rocking over 650 servers in 46 different locations spread across 26 countries. It’s not quite the globetrotting reach of ExpressVPN but let’s be real: you’re here to get, virtually, the hell out of the UK. Whether that drops you in the United States or the Netherlands is immaterial to your goal dodging the rules at home.
Like ExpressVPN you can use the service on multiple devices and different platforms like your laptop, your phone, or even with a little extra configuration, your router. If you pay by the month it’ll run you $10, and if you pay by the year the price drops almost half to $5.83 a month.
Great for Budget Browsers: TunnelBear
Let’s say your appetite for content best viewed outside of the United Kingdom is modest. If that’s the case, then you’d be well served to check out TunnelBear, the only VPN we feel comfortable recommending that has a free option.
The 500MB monthly cap on the free tier will absolutely not get your far in the world of 4K video, for standard definition video or images it’s a decent amount of bandwidth. Need more bandwidth? You can jump to the unlimited play for $9.99 a month (or pay for a year at a time and drop the price to $4.99. With the paid tiers you an use the service on up to five of your devices like phones, tablets, and computers.
Once you get into the paid tier for TunnelBear, it may make sense to go with one of our previous options—TunnelBear does only rock servers in 22 countries with an undisclosed amount of servers. However, some people really love the friendly interface.