Netflix begins clamp down on use of VPN services to access US content

5 Jan 2015

In what could be poxy news for individuals who use VPN services and those of proxy pirates to sneak around geographical content restrictions, Netflix is understood to have begun clamping down on these loopholes.

It has emerged that Netflix has begun blocking subscribers who access its service using VPN services and other tools to bypass geolocation restrictions.

It’s a well-known fact that Netflix’s content library in North America is bigger and better than those currently available in Europe and as such users in European countries as well as Australia have for some time now used VPN services to access the better material on Netflix’s US library.

Alas, all of this is to end as VPN providers are alleging that since mid-December Netflix has put in place restrictions that make it harder for users to use VPN services and proxy pirates to enjoy a more diverse range of content.

According to TorrentFreak movie studios were not happy that subscribers outside the US could circumvent geographic controls and have demanded that Netflix take action.

In recent weeks Netflix’s Android app has forced use of Google DNS which mkes it harder to use DNS-based location unblockers.

Has a digital iron curtain descended on Europe?

“This is a brand new development,” said TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt.

“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 ever heard Netflix displaying this type of error message to a VPN user.”

It is believed that these efforts to block certain IP ranges are an experiment that could lead to a wide-scale rollout of blocking measures.

Other blocking efforts being employed by Netflix include querying the user’s time zone through the web browser and mobile GPS on their smartphones and tablet devices.

The reason for this is licensing and complex deals that Netflix has to wrangle in order to provide content in various countries.

Movie giants such as Sony are demanding the use of geo-blocking technologies as part of these complex licensing agreements.

Netflix image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years