Google VPN Gets Key Tweak

John Lister's picture

Google is to give users of its VPN service more control over the location they want their traffic to appear to come from, rather than just selecting a country. It should overcome a problem with localized webpage information.

A virtual private network (VPN) is designed to overcome problems with an inherent aspect of the Internet: that both Internet data and its origin are readily accessible by default. One analogy likens it to vehicles passing through a giant glass tube. Even when the data itself is encrypted, the origin and destination can still be discovered.

In the analogy, a VPN is like creating a series of tunnels for the cars to pass through. Not only can the data not be viewed by third parties, but it can be routed in such a way that its origin can't be discovered.

Somewhere In America

Many VPN users are trying to protect their identity, for example in countries where accessing particular websites could be a sign they are politically opposed to an oppressive regime. However, other users will use settings that make it appear they are in a different location. This could, for example, let them watch video content that is blocked to users in their country, often for licensing or censorship reasons.

Google has its own VPN service that carries a fee for most users, though is free of charge to people with its Pixel 7 phones. Like many VPN services it disguises the specific location of the user and assigns them an address in the country of their choice.

That's proven problematic for some US customers whose primary reason for using a VPN is privacy rather than pretending to be in a different country. The IP address used as a disguise by the VPN could be anywhere in the US.

Local Info Incorrect

That can cause problems with websites that use the IP address to deliver localized information such as weather forecasts or movie listings. Some sites use cookies to store a user's preferred location, but VPN users will often have cookies restricted or limited. (Source:

Google says that from the end of July it will switch default settings so that VPN users who select their own country will get a disguise IP address from their area. It says neither Internet providers nor websites will be able to know the actual IP address or exact location of the user. (Source:

Customers who prefer to use the existing setting of getting an IP address from a selection covering the entire country will be able to switch the default back.

What's Your Opinion?

Have you used a VPN? If so, do you select your own country or another country? Have you noticed a problem with location-based sites when using VPNs?

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Focused100's picture

I don't currently use one. But I'm planning on upgrading to a Pixel 7 or 8 in the nxt month or two. So I will then install the VPN.

Zardozzle's picture

I have a VPN BECAUSE of Google. I'd never use a VPN service controlled by them.