Netflix's Ramped Up War On VPNs Comes With Collateral Damage
from the whoops-a-daisy dept
As Netflix has grown internationally, the company has increased its crackdown on “content tourism,” or the act of using a VPN to trick Netflix into letting you watch content specifically licensed for other countries. If you take a look at what’s available per country, the motivation to use a VPN to watch content not available in your market becomes abundantly obvious.
Pressured by copyright holders concerned about this “piracy,” Netflix began beefing up its war on VPNs around 2016. This primarily involved blocking VPN IP addresses used by users trying to avoid this sort of “geofencing.”
Initially it wasn’t particularly difficult for VPN providers to skirt the restrictions. Often by trying to disguise their VPN IP addresses as the IP addresses of normal, residential broadband users. But more recently, Netflix has been beefing up its VPN blocking efforts, including the banning of some residential IP addresses:
“Netflix doesn?t explain which IP addresses are blocked and why, but the most recent efforts are much broader than before. This issue was brought to our attention by WeVPN, which noticed that the updated geo-fencing system is blocking its residential IP addresses.”
The problem is that determining which IP address is a VPN disguised as a residential broadband subscriber, and which IP address is an actual residential broadband subscriber is going to prove difficult, inevitably leading to some collateral damage:
“The collateral damage is that you have hundreds of thousands of legitimate residential Netflix subscribers blocked from accessing Netflix?s local country full catalog from their home,? a WeVPN spokesperson informs us.
While we are unable to verify how many people are facing issues, it is clear that the measures are spilling over to regular subscribers.
Torrent Freak points to a growing number of complaints on Reddit from folks saying that they suddenly can’t access content they pay for, and none of them appear to be using a VPN or proxy to disguise their real IP address. Netflix’s response so far has been in a few instances to try and blame the user’s ISP:
Hi Raymond, help is here!? If you do not have proxies, VPNs, or other routing software but still see this message, contact your internet service provider. They'll be able to determine why your IP address is associated with proxy or VPN use.? https://t.co/JMty6kcu3j ^KG
— Netflix CS (@Netflixhelps) August 11, 2021
Netflix hasn’t been particularly clear yet on exactly what they’re doing, but it’s fairly clear the new lockdown is coming with some collateral damage, an internet-filtering inevitability.