Netflix Vows to Shut Down Proxy Users Who Bypass Country Restrictions.
The company said in a blog post today that in coming weeks it would begin blocking so-called VPN proxies (VPN is short for “virtual private network”), servers that let users get around content licensing restrictions limiting where movies and shows can be viewed.
“We are making progress in licensing content across the world and, as of last week, now offer the Netflix service in 190 countries,” says David Fullagar, Netflix’s vice president of content delivery architecture, “but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.”
Netflix, which now offers streaming service in some 190 nations, says it’s going to bring the hammer down on people who circumvent country-based content licensing restrictions using proxies or “unblockers”. For Netflix, this is a bold move. Users around the world have long used VPN proxies to access Netflix when it wasn’t available in their countries at all.
For the last couple of years, Netflix has been persistent in blacklisting various VPN services which they presume, serve as a medium for the users to bypass their location. But their new announcement points towards a reorientation in their patrolling and blocking process. They would now try to get some new methods that would block specific users who use a proxy or VPN service and pretend to be in some other part of the world. Such users would be allowed to view the content available in their local area only.
“Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means, in the coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies”
But the crackdown on VPNs may also backfire. Netflix, after all, is a consumer brand, and consumers in, say, the Philippines aren’t going to be happy to learn that they won’t be able to watch the shows and films that were able to view just last month. This ill will might lead fewer consumers to sign up to pay for the service in their home country (especially if the offerings are worse than what a user could have accessed via VPN). The crackdown could also encourage more piracy of both Netflix and Hollywood’s content instead, which is exactly what Netflix should be hoping to avoid.