The landscape of the internet in Belgium is less surprising than you would otherwise expect. You would be right to assume that since the country is so strongly divided ethnically between the Walloons and the Flemish, it would have some consequences in the online meadows as well. But this is not the case; internet freedom in Belgium is solely looked upon from the viewpoint of Belgium as a single political entity; there are no subdivisions or ethnicity-specific laws in this matter. You could also assume that since the capital of the EU is in Brussels, Belgium would be the country that conforms to EU internet law the most. This would also be a false assumption; there are characteristics of Belgium internet freedom that differentiate it from other EU members.
Best VPN Services for Belgium of 2019
Using a Belgian IP
The most important piece of information to state here is that Belgium is the leading country in the world regarding IPv6 utilization. This means that Belgium is quick to provide the most recent internet protocols to its people. This version of IP is safer, easier to process by routers and provides all around better utility options that its predecessor IPv4. Over 35% of the country’s addresses are IPv6 now and this number is ever increasing. For everyday and casual usage, a major advantage of IPv6 is that you can view videos in 4K and other very high resolutions that are intended for larger televisions. Since video and streaming content with resolution this high demands a lot of bandwidth (usually between 10 Mbps and 20 Mbps), double check your internet connection’s speed. This also means that by using a Belgian IP that is IPv6, you can easily enjoy high resolution content of other countries, too.
Belgian Online Privacy Laws
There is a slight bias towards Belgian internet law. While traditional press is considered free, the constitution of Belgium does not mention the digital press. Furthermore, wording is pretty loose in terms of internet law and censorship in particular. The Article 39b of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that any data can be made inaccessible in Belgium if it conflicts public order or good morals. This in itself is a questionable legal background. This loose wording incentivizes online self-censorship and confirms the perceived social ideals of Belgium. The amount of content blocked under the effect of this law is unclear. However – to illustrate the effects and implications of this legal background – the current state of Belgium’s indirect threats to internet freedom have been dubbed as “The Great Firewall of Belgium”. But generally, any content that is available in Belgium is accessible outside of its borders, too. It is unblocking content that is restricted that is problematic. VPN providers are a great way of doing this.
Internet Censorship in Belgium
Gambling websites are often regulated in Belgium. Those domains that do not possess an operating license of the country’s gaming commission are blacklisted and blocked within Belgium’s borders. Since 2012, there are over a hundred sites that have been banned this way. The most notable out of the herd of downloading sites, The Pirate Bay, was banned in the land of chocolate, waffles and beer. Only recently have the owners of the site been acquitted of copyright infringement. A good number of torrent sites are also similarly blocked, including at.ph, H33T, BitSnoop, ExtraTorrent, TorrenReactor and Isohunt. Understandably, child pornography content is also not allowed. One of the main conductors of blocks is the Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation. They can order ISPs and websites directly, without court orders.
Overall, this is bad news, as while Belgium’s internet freedom is currently good, it bears the potential of any domain subject to suspension on grounds that their content does not agree with Belgian values.
Streaming Services in Belgium
The availability of international streaming services in Belgium is not the best. Netflix is the most prominent member of the streaming market present in Belgium, and they have been present since mid 2014. Belgium’s Netflix suffers the same drawbacks as the service does in most other countries: while in the United States Netflix offers a full list of content, selection is somewhat restricted in Belgium. This is rather insulting, putting the “non-native” countries’ markets on the back foot. Like the vast majority of non-UK countries, BBC iPlayer is not available in Belgium. The situation is the same with Hulu: it is geoblocked. Amazon Prime is also strict, as the only permitted way of accessing it is being physically inside the territory of UK and Northern Ireland. Better news though is that Spotify has been available in Belgium since 2011.
Free Belgian VPN Trials
Finally, we would like to recommend you VPN providers that help in two potential problems of Belgian internet: blocked content (some of which is unspecified, so you might run into sites that are blocked for no apparent reason), and speed, in case you intend to use IPv6. Because most VPN providers are still optimized for IPv4, using IPv6 can result in DNS leaking. Therefore we also included leak protection among out criteria. VyprVPN is a good remedy for all of these problems; they are adept at unblocking content, provide great speed and their Windows client comes with built-in DNS leak protection. Already one of the best services on the market, VyprVPN will probably stay on top with the IPv6 shift, too. Astrill is our second recommendation. While they do not directly protect against DNS leaking, Astrill offers its guard against DNS hijacking instead. Not having your online identity stolen is also something to consider when surfing on Belgian sites, and Astrill’s unique approach can also help you out.