Netflix to Crack Down on VPN/Proxy Users

By on January 15, 2016 | 12:52 pm
January 15, 2016 | 12:52 pm
January 15, 2016 | 12:52 pm

Netflix has an amazing library of content available to its users. There are its original series such as Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards, and there is also a plethora of content that the massively popular streaming service has licensed from other media creators, such as Homeland, Prison Break, and movies like “Avengers Assemble” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

However, while having a large and diverse library of content is extremely important to Netflix’s subscriber numbers (users are unlikely to ditch their cable subs if they know that they’re going to miss out), that content isn’t available everywhere. As such, many Netflix users use ‘proxies’ or VPNs (virtual private networks) to get around the regional differences, letting them gain access to everything Netflix has to offer.

Soon, Netflix will be cracking down on the use of these loopholes. In a blog post on the Netflix Media Center, Netflix vice president David Fullagar says that:

“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 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.”

While the use of proxies and unblockers does violate the streaming service’s terms of service, this isn’t believed to be the reason why Netflix is suddenly cracking down on those who use them. Instead, it’s widely thought that Netflix is doing this as the company faces pressure from content providers. When content providers license their content to the company, they do so for specific regions, and so with users sidestepping region locks, the content providers obviously aren’t happy with the way Netflix is being used.

Moreover, while many users have used proxies and VPNs in countries where Netflix isn’t available in order to sign up and use the streaming service anyway, with Netflix going global and soon to launch in a further 130 countries, Netflix will no longer have to accommodate proxies/VPNs in order to get that extra business.

Despite Netflix’s changes in how it deals with proxy/VPN users, there is something positive to take from this. Fullagar admits that “if all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in”, also saying that “we are making progress in licensing content across the world” although they have “a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere”.

The unclear timeline for this licensing isn’t helpful, but the fact that Netflix realizes the problems that its users face – and vows to fix them – is certainly the silver lining in all of this.

Source: The Guardian

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