Spain is one of the better countries in terms of internet freedom. Still, if you live outside the country’s borders, it is possible that you will come across some specific sites that are blocked. The main reason for this would be copyright infringement, a sensitive topic handled in a retaliatory manner by the government. Though there are no restrictions on the actual access to the internet, some content that is deemed to violate law – most notably the Ley Sinde – will not be available to anybody, whether in or outside Spain’s borders. In terms of internet freedom, the country is a hybrid land where public and otherwise free information about Spain are also available online for free, whereas financially exploitable content (by whoever) is subject to somewhat more government control.
Best VPN Services for Spain of 2020
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Using a Spanish IP
The general situation regarding using or not using a Spanish IP is good. You are able to access most of the content otherwise available inside the country’s borders. This is good news for expats, although there have been some complaints about certain broadcasting streams that are – or were – geoblocked.
Restriction mainly comes in the form of IP bans. We have read of instances where certain VPN providers’ IPs were subject to blocking. This is bad news, as it seems then that blocks could be selective based on VPN provider, even. The good news is that proxies and non-public IPs have a better chance of working, not to mention a SmartDNS option. Mainly sports content is blocked in Spain. The quality football of the country in particular is high on demand. Some streaming channels however, are regularly blocked outside Spain borders either by request of Spain, or by the laws of the foreign country (the United Kingdom is a good example of the latter). Rojadirecta, LiveTV and Drakulastream for example are generally forbid from football streaming. Since a lot of sports content is restricted in one way or another, we recommend utilizing VPN solutions to skip restrictions altogether.
Spanish Online Privacy Laws
The most recent and significant change in the Spanish online legal envirovment is the Ley Sinde law of 2011. It is primarily aimed against copyright infringements. Spain bears one of the worst statistics in terms of online copyright infringement. This ranges anywhere from illegal movie and music downloads to CD-based unlawful trade, even today, well into the dawn of digital sales. Spain is also on the United States’ Special 301 report watch list: this means that they are considered to be distrustful in terms of copyright violation. Wanting to avoid trade restrictions, Ley Sinde was passed after several revisions. It can be argued then that both internal and external pressures played part in the creation of this sentiment.
The law itself essentially grants power to a select intellectual property commission to monitor Spanish websites and online content, and the power to request the shutdown of any site and the deletion of any content deemed to infringe copyright. Furthermore, those who were charged with infringement cannot demand information on who reported them. Illegal downloading is considered to be a problem by the Spanish government (and music industry); however, the amount of actual illegal trade and non-profit sharing is disputable. Still, you will have a hard time to access a good number of film and file sharing sites.
Internet Censorship in Spain
The Ley Sinde law thus also affects internet censorship to some degree. However, Spain is still a relatively acceptable country in terms of internet freedom. More extreme themes and content are usually banned, such as child pornography, supporting terrorism, genocide denial and provoking hatred, extreme social behavior. Repercussion is usually more severe than elsewhere; prison sentences of multiple years and sizeable fines are imposed upon violators. Nevertheless, it can be asserted that for general internet usage, Spain is almost convenient. We also have to raise concern about the hardship of the Spanish economy and political system in recent years. Since these negative changes also affected (and affect) the press, we advise you to take the content you read (any kind of news for example) with a pinch of salt.
Streaming Services in Spain
The streaming situation regarding Spanish programs is generally good. Over fifty TV channels (including TVE 24h, Barcelona TV, TVE 1, TV Canaria Sat and much more) and at least twice as much radio stations from Sevilla to A Coruna and across the country are available for online streaming, absolutely free of charge. The availability of online content outside Spain is dependent on the country that supplies the content itself and the relations of the two. Sadly, Spain has a bad reputation because of piracy and copyright infringement issues. This means that most online content considered to be popular (for example US and UK entertainment) are not available from inside the borders of the country.
However – to reiterate – if you are a Spanish expat, you will have no problem accessing large amounts of television and radio content outside your native country’s borders. Similarly, if you happen to visit Spain for any occasion, you can still run into some difficulties accessing the content of your home country. In both cases, the usage of VPN services is a good choice, since not only do they have the capability to unblock restricted websites, you can do this under the guise of various protection methods, protecting your connection and masking your online identity.
Free Spanish VPN Trials
Based on the above, we would also like to suggest some choices of VPN providers to choose and avoid. First, we would generally like to advise you not to use VPN connection with public IPs. They are more prone to be associated with a provider and to (geo)blocking. Therefore we would like to recommend HideMyAss. They work with a pool of over 100,000 individual IP addresses, so you are sure to find more than enough for your VPN adventures. With servers in Barcelona, Alicante, Madrid and other locations in Spain, there is always a nearby location to hide your true IP. While the several hundred VPN servers in the US, UK and over 210 other countries facilitate accessing content not available in Spain itself. PureVPN is also a good choice in this matter, not to mention their widespread device support that suits you in all online situations. Finally, we would like to give a point to VyprVPN. Their use of Dynamic Shared IPs is interesting and while we presume some may be public, the overwhelming list of 200,000 addresses should satisfy your privacy needs.