I don’t know how many hours the JET community has spent lamenting the loss of access to sites such as Hulu and Pandora due to international copyright restrictions. Since many foreign shows do not have broadcasting licenses in Japan, expats in Japan can’t access sites where they are streamed legally online. While many JETs have felt the temptation to use other measures to keep current with their favorite TV shows and media from back home, I strongly suggest looking into a little-known legal tech fix to get access to those sites back: the VPN.
A VPN – or virtual private network – is an encrypted network you can set up with a client and is often used to protect your personal data to unauthorized parties online. Using a foreign VPN client will mask your IP address with a non-Japanese IP address, enabling you to access sites that may have international restrictions (Pandora, NBC, Hulu, Netflix just to name a few). Also, your personal information is encrypted, protecting your online activity and personal data.
The VPN client that I’ve used for the past year is Hotspot Shield – available for both Mac and PC this client has given me access to restricted sites back home. Fair warning: Accessing Hotspot Shield will use a fair amount of bandwidth so a high-speed internet connection is necessary. Even so, I recommend closing out any other applications that may be using internet bandwidth (chat clients etc.) when using a VPN client. If you want to shop around and look at other clients, I recommend going through a trusted site such as CNET to circumvent the risk of viruses or worms.
Readers: Have you ever used a VPN? What clients do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!
Melanie is a 3rd-year ALT in Kahoku. She has been enjoying her favorite shows back home legally thanks to VPNs.