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Netflix’s VPN ban may adversely impact U.S. soldiers abroad

Netflix VPN Ban

Due to increasing pressure from content owners, Netflix recently said that it plans to clamp down on Netflix viewers abroad who rely upon proxy servers to access content they would otherwise be restricted from viewing.

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Now comes word via Stars and Stripes that Netflix’s reinvigorated efforts to placate movie studios may have an unintended and adverse effect on U.S. soldiers serving abroad.

While Netflix has long made special exemptions for soldiers residing in U.S. military bases abroad, Stars and Stripes points out that many U.S. soldiers happen to live off base. As a result, some U.S. soldiers may soon find that they can no longer access some of their favorite programming while serving overseas.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Shaundell Wright, a quartermaster with Yokosuka Navy Base’s Port Operations Dispatch, said being stationed overseas can be culturally disorientating. Being able to access American media on Netflix allows her and her friends to feel closer to home, she said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Fowler, a hospital corpsman stationed in Bahrain, said that when he reviewed the content available in Bahrain, he was happy with the overall selection, but he noticed that a couple of shows he normally watches were missing.

While one might reasonably assume that Netflix content is uniform across all countries, antiquated licensing laws have resulted in a situation where subscribers in some countries are precluded from accessing the entirety of Netflix’s content catalog.

“Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory,” Netflix explained recently. “That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies.”

While many believe that Netflix’s attack on proxy use is not a war they can win, Netflix late last week already started blocking some users in Australia from accessing certain content.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.