AnchorFree's Expat Shield targets iPlayer loving Brits abroad

It’s a question I’ve been asked many times: How to watch UK television abroad over the Internet. Never mind the legal ramifications of accessing copyrighted content outside of its licensed jurisdiction, it can also be a technical kludge, involving setting up proxy servers and engaging in a cat and mouse game as the likes of the BBC’s iPlayer block access. As a result, it’s generally not for the feint-hearted.

Enter ‘Expat Shield‘ from US-based AnchorFree, maker of the popular HotSpot Shield. The updated version of the free and ad-supported software – Windows-only for now – offers the option to assign a UK IP address, providing an “at-home” web experience for Brits, says the company, coded talk for accessing sites such as iPlayer and, presumably, the full gamut of simulcasts and catch-up services provided by the major British broadcasters.

Specifically, AnchorFree says that Expat Shield enables UK residents abroad to remain private online, offering protection from the type of open WiFi exploit highlighted by Firesheep, while staying connected to sites including: Google, The Financial Times, CNN and the BBC; social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and MySpace; VOIP services like Skype (sometimes blocked in foreign regions); and BBC iPlayer and other sites that are unavailable from certain countries or outside of the UK.

It also appears that Expat Shield maintains support for a US IP address mode so that anyone can shop on e-commerce sites such as US eBay or Zappos and receive direct shipments to anywhere worldwide. Presumably, if a full US IP address is assigned in the same was as for the UK, sites such as video streaming site Hulu can also be accessed.