Sean McGrath

Sean McGrath

June 25, 2018

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Norway is a liberal society with a very successful economy. The country’s population is highly educated. Its government thus has a tough job trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes.

Should anyone worry about internet restrictions in Norway? Reporters without Borders thinks not. Freedom of speech pressure groups, such as Freedom House, also aren’t worried. Norway is an inclusive society with a popular constitutional monarchy and a responsive political class. None of the classic causes of internet repression exist in this happy land.

Despite its blessings, the Norwegian population is susceptible to threats. This is a slim, frozen, rocky land with a very small population. The freezing temperatures make it difficult to organize outdoor protests, or collective action, so citizens can easily be convinced that the nation is weak. The EU has psychologically overwhelmed the people of Norway and forced the government to toe the line.

Despite repeated votes against EU membership, the Norwegians are subject to EU law. That’s because the Norwegian government implements EU directives. The EU Data Retention Directive and copyright enforcement rulings make downloading with torrents a risky habit. Both have become part of Norwegian law. By using a VPN to torrent, you will be a lot safer.

Norwegians speak English better than most of the English! They’re also clever enough to realize that they don’t need to wait for top movies and shows to be released in their own country. Norwegians can use the Internet to access English-language entertainment and soon as it’s released. They don’t have to wait for it to roll out across the fjords. Unfortunately, video sites don’t like people accessing their libraries from other countries. This is all because of issues around local licensing and copyright contracts.

Using a VPN in Norway: Considerations

Streaming and Torrenting are blocked in Norway

The two internet problems you face in Norway are the illegality of torrent downloads and the impossibility of getting into foreign streaming services,with a VPN you can get American Netflix Unblocked and a whole host of other services that aren’t usually available in Norway.

These two issues can be resolved by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The VPN represents you in everything you do on the internet. It protects the traffic that passes between your computer and the VPN server. As such, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can’t see that you accessed torrent directories or engaged in peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads.

If you’re new to VPNs and want to know more, check out our beginners guide to VPNs for all the information you need in one handy guide.

The VPN makes it seems as though you’re in the same country as the server you chose when turning on the VPN client. This enables you to get into streaming services with geo-location access restrictions.

When looking for a VPN for Norway, you need to ensure that the provider you choose has servers in the countries from which you want to access streaming video. You also need to be sure that the VPN you use doesn’t keep any activity logs. That will protect you from copyright lawyers tracing you when they try to track down torrent downloaders.

P2P Downloading in Norway

The first obstacle you face when trying to download with torrents in Norway is that the country blocks most torrent directory sites. A Norwegian court blocked access to seven torrent sites in a September 2015 ruling. ISPs remove the addresses for those sites from their Domain Name Servers to implement the ban.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a lookup table that translates between the web addresses that people type into their browsers and the real internet addresses (called “IP addresses”) of the computers that store those sites. If your browser can’t get the address of the computer that hosts a site, it can’t  request any pages from it. VPNs provide their own DNS servers to overcome this hurdle. Once you turn on the VPN, your computer will direct all internet traffic through the VPN server. That includes DNS requests.

Another trick that ISPs around the world practice to hijack P2P downloads is to close the connections that your BitTorrent client establishes with peers. When the ISP detects torrent traffic passing through to your computer, it sends a reset command to the peer from which you are downloading. The reset breaks the connection, so you find it impossible to download anything.

When you connect to a swarm with the VPN running on your computer, all of the traffic that leaves your computer goes to the VPN server in an encrypted state. That makes it impossible for the ISP’s software to spot BitTorrent protocol signals. If the ISP’s computers can’t detect P2P activity, they can’t send out reset commands. Therefore, your download will progress.

Find out more about VPN encryption and how it works with our ultimate online privacy guide.

The EU Data Retention Directive

The EU designed its Data Retention Directive to aid copyright lawyers. It can take time for lawyers to track down the people who downloaded a specific file. If ISPs don’t store records of the connections their customers make, the lawyers could only follow live downloads. That would considerably reduce the number of people that they could pursue. In Norway, ISPs are obliged to keep activity logs for six months. This presents a window of opportunity for copyright lawyers to get a court order for access to those records.

The activity logs show all of your connections – where they went to, what connection requests came in, and any characteristics of the connection, such as the network protocol used. This information can identify a download of a specific file. As all communication over the internet has a “from” and “to” address on it, copyright lawyers can trace you through your ISP’s account records.

Another privacy weakness of the BitTorrent system can expose your identity. This is the Peers tab in just about every flavor of BitTorrent client available. Anyone in a swarm can see the IP addresses of all the peers. Therefore, all a copyright law firm needs to do is download with torrent files and note down the peers’ addresses. The lawyers then need a court order to force the ISP to detail which customers were using the recorded addresses at that time.

VPNs for Norway

You can get around the problem of your IP address appearing in the Peers tab of the BitTorrent client by using an anonymizing proxy. You enter that intermediary’s details in the settings of your BitTorrent client. However, the process is complicated, and anonymizers frequently get shut down or change addresses to avoid detection. Nor do those proxies encrypt your connections as they pass through your ISP. As such, your ISP can still read and record the contents of your downloads.

A VPN is a type of proxy, but it is much more robust than an anonymizer. You don’t have to enter the address of the VPN in your BitTorrent client because the VPN server replaces your real IP address so no one can see it. As all of your traffic goes first to the VPN server, your ISP won’t be able to see who you’re connecting to. The traffic that passes between the VPN client on your computer and the VPN server is entirely encrypted, so none of the contents of your communications can be accessed. A VPN gives you far greater anonymity than an anonymizer.

The online anonymity created by a VPN is not total. This is because the VPN company can see exactly what you’re doing. You can achieve almost-total anonymity if you use a VPN that doesn’t keep logs. The EU Data Retention Directive only applies to ISPs, not VPNs. As such, VPN companies aren’t obliged to keep activity logs. Some do, so you have to be careful which VPN you choose if you want to download files with P2P networks. None of the VPNs in our list of the five best for Norway retain data that could incriminate you.

The Best VPNs to use in Norway: Conclusion

VPNs offer you a neat trick that makes you seem to be in a different place. With this service, you can appear to be in another country in order to access streaming services that refuse to deliver videos to foreign connections. Video streaming sites scan requests for VPN characteristics. They block any that they detect. Therefore, not all VPNs can get you video streams from abroad. The services in this list of the five best VPNs for Norway are among the best in the world and will get you cross-border access to videos.

You can even the score a little and circumvent internet blocks and restrictions by using a VPN when you are in Norway. Protect yourself from being traced on the internet and prevent copyright lawyers from tracking you down. Use a VPN for internet access in Norway and continue to enjoy the best of the ‘net.

Best VPNs for Norway: Side-by-Side Summary

Image Credit: Mostovyi Sergii Igorevich/