Netflix to crack down on VPN users who watch content from other countries
This move comes as Netflix has expanded to virtually every country on Earth, many of which have a different selection of content. That’s thanks to the archaic web of copyright and licensing restrictions. In the US, you might have access to a certain show that isn’t available in the UK, for example. A user in the UK who wants to watch that right now can use a VPN service like Hola to make it appear that they are in the US geographically. Users all over the world do the same thing, even some US subscribers (they have The Godfather in Japan).
Content owners have been publicly annoyed with Netflix in the past for not doing enough to prevent this sort of behavior by its customers. Streaming rival Hulu, which is partially owned by several studios, has actively worked to block users of VPNs from accessing its video streams. Netflix didn’t go into detail about how it would detect proxies, but said it is in line with what other streaming providers do. Once the change goes into effect, anyone trying to access Netflix over a VPN connection will be presented an error message telling them to disable their VPN.
While most Netflix subscribers using VPNs are doing so to get around streaming limitations, that’s not always the case. Some people use proxies for privacy reasons, or to get around a local network block of streaming services like Netflix. These people will probably be caught up in the VPN dragnet all the same, even though they aren’t trying to get around the geo-restrictions. VNPs have also been useful in the past to increase streaming quality when ISPs let their pipes get clogged to teach Netflix a lesson.
Netflix concedes that users are often just responding to a lack of content in their home country. Netflix wants to be able to offer the same streaming options everywhere, but that’s simply not feasible right now. In the meantime, this is probably a change it has to make to keep its content partners happy. Netflix is also pushing original content hard this year, and that will be available globally as Netflix owns the rights. In the future, Netflix might produce enough of its own content that geo-blocks don’t seem so annoying. For the time being, you’ve only got a few more weeks to enjoy Netflix from the other side of the world.