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Fooling the BBC ?

shermans
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 1,082
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Fooling the BBC ?

Can anyone offer any advice about fooling the BBC into thinking that I am connecting to their website from the UK when in fact I am abroad ?
I like to keep in touch when abroad by watching the BBC video streams from the BBC Newsplayer service (http://news.bbc.co.uk/) on my laptop.
In some countries, the BBC are able to distinguish international visitors from UK visitors somehow, and then they either stream the video in narrowband quality or add in irritating advertisments into the news to pay for the service, evidently.
Now, as I pay my TV licence in the UK, I feel that I should be able to watch these Newsplayer services from abroad on my laptop in the same way as I watch them in the UK on my laptop when away from home, in reasonable broadband resolution and without any advertisements.
So my question is, how can I fool the BBC into thinking I am in the UK, even though I am using a foreign internet connection ?  Could I hide behind some sort of UK based proxy, or even use a dynamic IP address - I don't really understand these things, and may be being naive, but any suggestions would be appeciated.
How's that for an unusual topic ?
18 REPLIES
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,866
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Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

The BBC (and anyone else) can tell where you are with a fairly high certainty by doing a database lookup using your ip address.
Your only way around this would be to go via a proxy located in the UK.
Even a dynamic address comes from a range supplied by your ISP - so the BBC knows that either:-
a) You came through a National ISP like PlusNet or
b) You came via some multinational connection such as AOL
Since the BBC know you are in a foreign country they presume that you are not a television licence payer. It's actually quite nice of them to provide you with any kind of service.

Community Veteran
Posts: 26,688
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

Simple - use a modem to dialup via Plusnet.
Performance may not be that great though! Wink
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
shermans
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 1,082
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

Using dial-up would work, no doubt but it ias a rather expensive way to skin a cat.
Soit seems that using a UK-based proxy would be the answer.  Any idea how I might be able to get a UK proxy ?
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,688
Thanks: 911
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

It wouldn't surprise me if the BBC blocked proxies given that it is such an obvious way to circumvent the controls.
How about setting up a VPN to your home network and then routing BBC only over the VPN?
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
paulby
Grafter
Posts: 1,619
Registered: 26-07-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

The BBC also serve different IP addresses dependent on DNS server location. 
There is a current issue ongoing with OpenDNS as they are returning an IP that the BBC serves to people using DNS servers located outside the UK even though they have a server located in London. 
Even if your IP is a UK one, if you use OpenDNS you'll be blocked from video content.
See this thread on the OpenDNS forums.
grimme
Grafter
Posts: 241
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

Would something like Onspeed allow the BBC to think that the software request comes from Onspeeds own Servers?
You wouldn't need to have the full compression levels, as that can be adjusted via the software.
It is chargeable @£24.99, but,  they have a 14 day money back guarantee - so if it doesn't do what you want it to just get them to refund and remove the software to try something else.
shermans
Aspiring Pro
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

Funny you mention that - I subscribe already to Onspeed for use when travelling using hotel dial-up.  I was wondering myself whether that might work.
I have just received the following email from the BBC :
News 24 stream is only available in the UK because of the copyright agreements regarding using certain pictures (notably sports video) outside the UK. We have permission to stream the channel live to users in the UK and we use GOIP recognition to identify the location of the computer requesting the stream. If your computer is located outside the UK, eg the USA, you will not be able to view the live stream.
I hope that explains the reason why you can't watch news 24 live from the BBC News website from outside the UK.

I have not heard of GOIP recognition before but guess it may be something like Global Overseas Internet Protocol recognition ?
Can anyone answer whether under these circumstances, Onspeed's proxy server might fool them ?
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
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Re: Fooling the BBC ?

AFAIK Onspeed tries to give enhanced performance by accessing the resource (from Onspeed), applying some fairly severe non-lossy compression to it so that it can be transmitted down a narrowband telephone line.
Unfortunately, anything of interest such as streamed video and large images, flash content is fairly compressed already.
So you face the cost of onspeed + cost of call to UK. Streamed media will be at narrowband resolutions - but you would see a proper UK web page.
Provided you go through a UK OnSpeed, properly configured to look like a national UK source...

Community Veteran
Posts: 5,880
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

why do you need the cost of a call to the UK? I thought onspeed worked on BB connections as well, although there was little point in it.
Also (slightly OT) didn't MN used to offer a similar product to OnSpeed, or am I going mad (Jameseh?)
puddy
Grafter
Posts: 1,571
Registered: 10-06-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

how about a slingbox not sure how they work though that way anywhere in the world you can watch UK tv from your own tv in the UK.
Puddy
do you have to call home to change channels?
shermans
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 1,082
Thanks: 32
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

Onspeed works with broadband perfectly well but the difference, though ostensibly X 2, is not frankly discernible.  So it does not need a call to the UK once you have a broadband connection.  But I am not sure whether everything goes through their servers - would video stream go through, as presumably it is already compressed ?
One thing that I have discovered with Onspeed is that email often gets tagged as spam by spam filters when sent with Onspeed turned on.  Looking at the headers of spam tagged email, the spam filters see huge quantities of data coming from the Onspeed IP, and mistake Onspeed for a spammer !  Because all their clients' data go through their server, the output would of course look unusually large, and A.I. is not that intelligent.
On the other hand, Onspeed masks your own IP extremely well, better apparantly than a firewall.  I did the Plusnet test to see how well protected I am behind my router, my firewall and then the Plusnet firewall.  I scored maximum points possible and when I looked into it further, I learnt that the additional security of the Onspeed proxy meant that my pc is totally invisible when Onspeed is turned on !
grimme
Grafter
Posts: 241
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

With regard to the streaming actually going through the Onstream servers - I've found that it generally starts by trying it through the servers but then gives up and stops the compression.
It might be that the initial trying might convince the BBC to think you are in the right place and it will carry on?

Community Veteran
Posts: 26,688
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

I'd be stunned if that would work - I'd have expected the BBC to be wise to tricks like that and default to non-UK where it wasn't clear where the connection was from (they'd have to do that because of the copyright agreements)
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
mcgurka
Grafter
Posts: 764
Registered: 09-10-2007

Re: Fooling the BBC ?

well this is the beauty of Network Address Translation, with a proxy. It can make you appear like you are somewhere you are not!
I routinely roam around the UK, london, sheffield, nottingham, leeds, manchester are the most common, and all the time I use my laptop, its like Im just sat at my desk, on my PN connection.
Setting up a proxy is rather easy. I wouldnt operate a straight proxy, as it is horrendously unsecured and normally only runs with HTTP traffic.
What would work, and has been touched on already is to assign a staic IP to your F9 connection, throw in a VPN box and connect into that! Then all your traffic looks like it is from your home / bussiness etc.
All you need is an old PC, 2 NICs and you already have all you need! If you want to try out a system, drop me a PM, ive got a demo system here you can connect to and have a play with if you wanted.
Scott