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This article was published on January 19, 2016

Netflix says it’ll block VPN users, but the providers don’t think so

Netflix says it’ll block VPN users, but the providers don’t think so
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Last week, Netflix announced it planned to stop users from accessing the service through proxies.

Of course, Netflix is also aiming to provide its full catalog world-wide as opposed to adhering to current geo-specific content regulations, so the move appears to be largely symbolic and nothing more than an attempt to appease content owners.

While it’s likely that Netflix will block some proxy users, the fight is one the streaming service doesn’t really seem like it wants to win.

Netflix, afterall, is caught in an in-between state of having to rely on content owners for titles while appeasing users for revenue. A public declaration that you’re going to war with proxy users while firing bullets from a marshmallow gun seems to be the best way to placate both sides.

Virtual private network services are speaking out against the announcement and arguing that many customers are using VPNs for legitimate reasons, such as avoiding ISP-level throttling or securing an otherwise unsecure network, such as public WiFi at a hotel, coffee shop or park.

Some services, such as Slick VPN, have pledged to stay a step ahead of the restrictions by migrating IPs as they become blocked.

TorGuard‘s Ben van der Pelt told Torrent Freak yesterday:

Unfortunately, many legitimate paid subscribers will be left in the dark as an unavoidable outcome of overreaching IP blocks. TorGuard is monitoring the situation closely and we have recently implemented new measures that can bypass any proposed IP blockade on our network. VPN users who encounter Netflix access problems are encouraged to contact us for a working solution.

Again, it appears that this move is a lot of posturing rather than an attempt to make sweeping change to the way users access content.

If Netflix truly wanted to stop you from accessing the content, there are far more effective ways to do so, such as limiting the account to the location on the attached credit card.

But, as it stands, VPNs will be actively seeking to stay ahead of the streaming service, and it’s quite likely they will. After all, does a company that relies on subscribers actually want them to leave?