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Research: Half UK VPN users access out of region content

A significant number of Britons are using either Virtual Personal Networks (VPN) or proxy servers, research from YouGov reveals.

The Incognito Individual report explores the different ways people go undetected online. It shows that 16 per cent of British adults have used either a VPN or proxy server, with the main motivation for doing so being to get region-based access to sites (48 per cent of VPN/proxy users).

A VPN allows users to watch services such as the BBC iPlayer when overseas, with many expatriates living in the UK using a VPN to keep in touch with local media and other restricted services from their country of origin.

YouGov’s data reveals that over four in ten VPN users (44 per cent) use the service for extra security, while 37 per cent do so to gain extra privacy.  A quarter (24 per cent) say the reason for their use is to be able to access sites that are blocked at home or work, while the same percentage (24 per cent) do so to stop or reduce the amount of personalised adverts they see. Finally, 19 per cent do so to decrease spam.

Furthermore, as large numbers look to go undetected online, the report shows that the dark web is also gaining traction among the public – even if it is more by reputation than use. YouGov’s data suggests that approaching two thirds (65 per cent) of British adults have heard of the dark web (only 6 per cent admit to having used it). However, use may be set to grow – a further 6 per cent say that they would use it in the future.

Nasra Aharchich of YouGov Reports 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.”

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