Much to the chagrin of customers from locations with heavy content restrictions, Netflix announced last week that it would be cracking down on the use of VPNs, proxies, and other methods used to watch content not available in the viewer’s own region.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that along with the affected users, VPN providers weren’t happy about the move. While providers almost universally condemned Netflix’s action, many have also said that users shouldn’t worry, as they’ll find a way around the block.
“We work tirelessly to ensure our customers have access to the entire Internet. If we find that our IP addresses start to become blocked we’ll migrate to new IPs as needed. We also offer the option of static IPs which eliminates the problem entirely,” SlickVPN’s Greg Lyda told TorrentFreak.
Andrew Lee, digital rights activist at Private Internet Access, says the move violates net neutrality. “By blocking PIA and other VPN customers,” Lee said, “it would be a very loud and clear message heard across the world: Netflix does not believe in net neutrality and will even go to lengths to block access to their service from privacy minded customers who live in the U.S.”
Many have wondered aloud why Netflix would actively stop people from paying the firm, especially given the company’s acknowledgement that VPN users helped it gain subscribers early on. The answer is that the VPN block came as a result of pressure from content providers, and now that Netflix is available across the globe, that pressure is likely increasing.
Most providers have vowed to counter Netflix’s efforts to block VPN users, but not all. IPTV won’t act to counter the block, it told TorrentFreak, as its focus is on privacy, and enabling users to watch Netflix was never a priority.
Netflix might be obligated to attempt to block VPN users, but how much effort it puts into the block remains to be seen. If it acts too aggressively, subscribers who aren’t using VPNs or proxies may find themselves wrongly blocked, and the company surely wants to avoid the backlash that would come as a result.