Netflix’s streaming service is so popular that many Internet users would do anything to be able to access the U.S. version of the service, which has a lot more content available for immediate streaming than local versions in other countries where Netflix is present. Accessing the U.S. store through a VPN connection from overseas is common practice for some Internet users, including frequent U.S. citizens traveling to other countries, or those looking to protect their privacy. But Netflix is no longer willing to ignore this practice, Torrent Freak reports, and seems ready to take action against subscribers to meet the needs of movie studios and rights holders.
Netflix has quietly started to block “pirates” that circumvent geolocation using VPN services by forcing its Android application to use Google DNS, which prevents the app from connecting via a VPN to access the U.S. version of Netflix.
In addition to blocking actual “pirates” — some 200,000 Netflix subscribers access the service from Australia alone, apparently — the tools Netflix is using might also prevent U.S.-based subscribers who access the Internet at home using a VPN/proxy service for added security from streaming Netflix content even though they’re located in the U.S.
Some VPN providers have already confirmed that Netflix is taking action against users from other regions of the world.
“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,” VPN provider TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt told the publication.
“I have a sneaking suspicion that Netflix may be testing these new IP blocking methods temporarily in certain markets. At this time the blocks do not seem aggressive and may only be targeted at IP ranges that exceed too many simultaneous logins.”
Netflix is reportedly testing various ways of preventing users who aren’t actually located in the U.S. from accessing the service for the time being, though chances are some of the tools they’re using might still be bypassed by users.
But as CNET reports, Netflix says it hasn’t made any changes to its VPN policies.
“There have been no changes to our VPN policies,” a Netflix spokesperson told the publication.