Friday 15 November 2019

Netflix rejects claims of blocking subscribers

Netflix streaming video service. Photo: Reuters
Netflix streaming video service. Photo: Reuters

By Zachary Davies Boren

Netflix has been accused of blocking subscribers who use tools like VPNs to watch films and TV shows not permitted in their country.

The video streaming giant is reportedly cracking down on users that circumvent geolocation restrictions after apparent pressure from movie studios which want full control over what people can watch where, according to TorrentFreak.

Netflix has rejected the claims, insisting their VPN policies have not changed.

The streaming service's terms of use states: "The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location."

Some subscribers use tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) to fool Netflix into thinking they are somewhere else in the world, and therefore able to access a different set of movies and television shows illegally.

Movie studios, unhappy that some Netflix users are breaching their licensing agreements, have reportedly asked that Netflix starts punishing subscribers who use VPNs — even if it impacts legitimate streamers.

It is said that last summer Sony Pictures shared research with Netflix on the capabilities of VPNs and other proxy tools so that it could begin blocking violators.

Although Netflix has plans to expand into new territories, it is currently available in only a few dozen countries, each with its own video library.

In the past few weeks, Netflix has been accused of taking action against VPN and other users; the site's Android app, for instance, is forcing Google DNS to make it harder to use DNS location unblockers.

Ben Van der Pelt, from TorGuard, a major VPN provider that last month reported an increase in users having access problems, told Torrent Freak: "This is a brand new development. A few weeks ago we received the first report from a handful of clients that Netflix blocked access due to VPN or proxy usage.

"This is the very first time I've heard Netflix displaying this type of error message to VPN users."

Although Netflix has plans to expand into new territories, it is currently available in only a few dozen countries, each with its own video library.

In the past few weeks, Netflix has been accused of taking action against VPN and other users; the site's Android app, for instance, is forcing Google DNS to make it harder to use DNS location unblockers.

Ben Van der Pelt, from TorGuard, a major VPN provider that last month reported an increase in users having access problems, told Torrent Freak: "This is a brand new development. A few weeks ago we received the first report from a handful of clients that Netflix blocked access due to VPN or proxy usage.

"This is the very first time I've heard Netflix displaying this type of error message to VPN users."

Video games blogger Ben Ward said Netflix should "expect lots of cancellations".

Hulu, another streaming service in the US, also recently introduced similar measures.

This is the latest effort from media companies to make online piracy more difficult, following last month's successful shutdown of the Pirate Bay torrenting site that forced it to change domain.

Independent News Service

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