Netflix denies crackdown on VPN users

Netflix

Netflix has been forced to deny rumours that it is cracking down on customers who use virtual private networks (VPNs) to watch shows which aren’t licensed for their country.

The TorGuard VPN service is just one provider which reported access problems by its customers, telling TorrentFreak that “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 ever heard Netflix displaying this type of error message to a VPN user.”

Users of the streaming video service frequently turn to VPNs in order to view shows which aren’t licensed by the company in their country. For instance, the US version of Netflix offers shows including Twin Peaks, Friends and Black Mirror, none of which are accessible to UK customers.

The popular work-around involves using a VPN service such as TorGuard to make a connection look like it originates in the desired country. While not technically illegal, in most cases use of such a system goes against the terms of service for the streaming provider.

After users reported that their VPN connections were being blocked by Netflix, the company issued a statement saying that there was “no change” in the way it handles such connections, instead saying that it had always blocked VPNs when it could, and continued to do so.

“Netflix simply uses industry standard methods to prevent illegal VPN use,” the company said.

Users of other VPN services report no issues with Netflix so far, but many are concerned that the company may begin blocking their providers too. “I’m Australian and don’t have access to Netflix. If I’m locked out I’m cancelling,” wrote one user on Reddit.

Commercial VPN providers are used for a number of purposes, not all on the right side of the law. Many users appreciate the security and privacy benefits of the services, which mask a visitor’s true IP address from the site they visit, and prevent connections being eavesdropped on. The services also get around content filters at workplaces, schools and universities.

But they are also popular as a way to protect users against legal restrictions on their internet use, from viewing TV shows intended for other nations to downloading material from file-sharing services.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Monday 5th January 2015 14.44 Europe/London

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