A VPN, short for virtual private network, masks your IP address to make it appear as though you’re logging on from a different location than your actual one.
Using a VPN has many benefits. It’s a solid way to secure your personal information and protect online banking actions, credit card purchases, and other sensitive information from falling into the hands of cyber-hackers. It protects you from having your information handed over to the authorities. And the best VPNs provide you with access to streaming platforms, geo-restricted websites, news, and live sport from all over the world.
In this article we answer 10 questions you should ask yourself before choosing a VPN in Australia. Whether you’re interested in securely using the internet, protecting your data from the authorities, or you just want access to American Netflix in Australia, read on for all the answers.
1. Why Do You Need a VPN in Australia?
Few Australians realise it, but law enforcement agencies can instruct telecom companies like Telstra, Optus, and NBN Co to hand over ‘metadata’ about your phone and internet activity without having to obtain a warrant. Since mandatory data retention laws were passed in 2015, the various federal and state law enforcement agencies have made around 300,000 requests per year for historical telecommunications data, including people’s web browsing history. While you probably have nothing to fear if you’re not committing a crime, the only way to completely protect yourself against government snooping is to use a VPN.
2. Is It Legal to Use a VPN in Australia?
The good news is there are no laws banning the use of VPNs in Australia, which means it's perfectly legal to use a VPN to protect your browsing activity from outside attention. Top VPN providers like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and ZenMate offer their services in Australia, and you can safely register with an Australian address and pay with an Australian credit card without having to worry about any legal consequences.
3. What is Geo-Blocking and How Does a VPN Help?
You might think you live in an era where you can access any content you want, but the problem is the big streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu use geo-blocking restrictions to hide content from non-American viewers. For example, Netflix US offers 5,000+ titles while Netflix Australia only has around 2,000 titles. If you’re in Australia and want to access the full Netflix content library, the solution is simple: sign up to a VPN provider, connect to a server in an American city, and start streaming Netflix as if you were physically in the United States.
4. Is It Legal to Use a VPN to Access Netflix US from Australia?
Australian law does not prohibit using a VPN to access overseas content. As ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull wrote in a blog post on his website in 2015, “While content providers often have in place international commercial arrangements to protect copyright in different countries or regions, which can result in ‘geoblocking’, circumventing this is not illegal under the Copyright Act.” Streaming companies like Netflix can–and often do–ban people who use VPNs to get around geo-blocking. However, there is no risk of being prosecuted under Australian law for circumventing geo-location restrictions.
5. Why Use a VPN to Stream Live Sport?
Aussie subscription TV providers have gotten better at international sport broadcasts in the past few years, but unless you’re willing to pay for a Foxtel/Kayo and Optus Sport subscription you won’t be able to access everything (and even then some events may not be available). If you’re looking for affordable, unlimited access to live sport from around the world, then using a VPN with a US server gives you the option of signing up to services like fuboTV, YouTube TV, and Hulu Live TV. With a VPN, you can circumvent geo-blocking restrictions imposed by live sport streaming services–without breaking any Australian laws.
6. Which Streaming and Torrents Sites are Blocked in Australia?
An amendment was passed to Australian copyright law in 2015 which allowed for the court-ordered censorship of non-domestic websites whose primary purpose is to facilitate copyright infringement. Federal Court judges have since ordered Australian internet service providers to block hundreds of streaming and torrents sites under this law, including 86 websites in 2020. URLs belonging to popular piracy sites like KickassTorrents have repeatedly been blocked. You’ll have to go to a lot of trouble to access these types of sites in Australia, but there is an easier way: use a VPN and search your favourite streaming/torrents sites from a country where they haven’t been banned.
7. How Do You Choose the Best Australia VPN?
When choosing a VPN for use in Australia, look out for providers that promise the following:
- Zero-logging policy, meaning the VPN provider doesn’t keep any records whatsoever of your IP and browsing history.
- Servers in the countries where your favourite content is aired. For example, if you’re looking to access content that is aired only in the U.S., you’ll want a VPN provider that offers multiple American servers for you to choose from.
- Super-fast speeds that make Australia’s NBN seem relatively slow in comparison.
- Free trial period or 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test out the speeds without paying a cent.
8. How Do You Set Up a VPN in Australia?
How you set up your VPN depends on the device, operating system and browser you’re using. Your chosen VPN provider should offer detailed instructions on how to set everything up, but these are the basic steps:
- Sign up for a subscription or free trial with your preferred VPN provider.
- Install the provider’s VPN app (for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, etc.) or browser extension (for Chrome, Firefox, etc.).
- Follow the set-up instructions.
- Connect to a VPN server location in the country where you would like to browse from.
9. How Do You Test an Australian VPN?
To test your new Australian VPN, log in to your chosen VPN service, connect to a server in your preferred country, and begin browsing. If you’re only using the VPN for privacy and security, then there are no issues with choosing an Australian server. But if you wish to access geo-blocked content, then you’ll need to connect to a foreign server (e.g., an American server for content available only in the U.S.).
10. Are VPNs 100% Secure?
The better the VPN provider, the more secure, but it’s worth being aware that there is always a small chance of leaks. While WebRTC technology provides browsers and mobile applications with Real-Time Communications capabilities, it can also expose you to the potential of having your IP address exposed. For peace of mind, you can check your IP address on sites like whatismyipaddress.com and whatismyip.com to make sure your address can’t be seen.
A VPN Is Your Best Solution
Using a VPN is a good idea no matter where you are in Australia. Whether you’re looking to protect your online privacy, get around the many geo-restrictions imposed on Australian internet users, or connect to even faster browsing speeds than those guaranteed by the NBN–a VPN is your best solution.