Netflix steps up blocking VPNs, draws massive heat from users

Netflix and its users are at loggerheads over the issue of geo-blocked content. The company has started to crack down on proxy servers and VPNs, in order to honor licensing contracts with studios.

Netflix has started cracking down on users who access its services from VPNs and proxy routers. The video-on-demand service had earlier announced its intentions to stop users from accessing content not available in their country, which violates Netflix’s licensing arrangements with studio houses and other content owners. According to multiple reports, Netflix has started cracking down in Europe but it could only be a matter of days before it gets extended globally.

The move comes after Netflix surprised everyone by launching its services in 110 countries simultaneously in January this year. While it was a bold move, users complained about the limited content catalog they could access as compared to those available in the US and Canada. This compelled users to try hacks such as VPN or even use a DNS proxy, or app like Smartflix to access the content. The licensing agreements have been unfortunate, considering Netflix could not offer House of Cards in India, which is an original Netflix production because a television channel had the exclusive rights to air it.

Users across Europe have reported that they are unable to access Netflix via these VPN and DNS services. According to a long Reddit thread, the ban on VPNs and DNS has been implemented in countries such as Spain, Germany and the UK. As expected, users aren’t very happy about the move, as is evident from these tweets.

Watching Netflix content via a VPN requires a Netflix account.

These people want to pay.

But region blocking means their money’s no good.

— Nash (@Nash076) February 29, 2016

Netflix is blocking my home network’s VPN :(

— Bryan Stitt (@WyseNynja) March 1, 2016

“I think Netflix is overestimating the need of local subtitles especially in Northern Europe, where people are more or less fluent in English anyway. The use of VPN’s might not be that much to get around exclusive content for some countries, but to instead fix something what seems like a bad design choice and lack of understanding of their own audience,” a Reddit user said.

RELATED: Smartflix Review: An app that lets you access Netflix’s global content catalog

An Australian VPN called uFlix confirmed Netflix has actually banned its users. “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again,” said a message to customers accessing Netflix through the VPN.


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