Same as always

Netflix exec: company hasn’t changed policy on blocking VPN users

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Netflix isn’t cracking down on foreign users utilizing VPNs to access the company’s streaming service, or at least not more than it has always done, according to Netflix’s Chief  Product Officer Neil Hunt. “We haven’t changed our VPN policy at all,” said Hunt during a CES press briefing in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Hunt’s remarks followed reports that Netflix started to crack down on VPN users following requests of movie studios. Users in countries where [company]Netflix[/company] hasn’t officially launched yet have long used VPNs to bypass geo-blocking mechanisms that would prevent them from accessing Netflix’s streaming service by pretending that their computer resided in the U.S..

Recently, an increased number of VPN users complained online that they haven’t been able to access Netflix anymore, but Hunt said Tuesday that this has nothing to do with any stricter blocking rules. Instead, Netflix Android mobile app is now querying Google’s DNS service if a user’s default DNS service times out. That means that if a VPN service doesn’t return a DNS request in time, apps automatically get the local DNS information from Google, leading to users being locked out if they’re not in a Netflix market.

Hunt added that Netflix has long used “the same VPN block list that everyone else uses,” and that it can only do so much to prevent users from accessing the service from abroad.

This post was updated at 5:28pm to clarify that Netflix only queries Google DNS with its new mobile Android app.


8 Responses to “Netflix exec: company hasn’t changed policy on blocking VPN users”

  1. Sound Horizon

    So what about all the other VPN users. Which use the service for ligimate means. I personally won’t do anything these days without a VPN.

    Online banking you would be a fool not to. Or any service which requires a logon frankly. To many breaches and people’s identity, information being stolen.

    Because they don’t use strong encryption. However i completely side with Netflix regarding out of country users. Which try to skirt around region restrictions.

    Although when it comes to security there is no compermise in my book. On the flip side just like I-Tunes region restrictions however. It is only hurting the industry.

    By not allowing uses access to the content they want. I have run into this, much to my frustration. I would happily pay an extra fee to i-Tunes.

    If it meant getting access to music content which is not available in that region. So is it any wonder why people go to such extent. When these services arn’t available elsewhere.

    Netflix in a similar since needs to start looking at proving services to these customers as well. Otherwise people are going to find other means if necessary.

    • JDTerreri

      Pretty much – very surprising that TorrentFreak ran with this story after talking to one VPN company and doing no testing of their own. Even more surprising that so many in the media just took their word for it.

      I know Netflix gets pressure from Hollywood and they have to appease the industry somewhat, but there are a lot of reasons why their heart isn’t in dealing with VPN users.

      • John Willkie

        You fail to understand the situation; perhaps your understanding is slightly better than that of Torrent Freak (a site devoted to piracy.) Netflix only has the rights to content that the distributor licenses to it, and only for the term of the license.

        Netflix doesn’t get “Hollywood pressure”; for them to distribute particular pieces of content in areas where Netflix hasn’t obtained the rights, they are engaging in fraud and piracy at the worst and are violating their license at the least. Simply put, they haven’t negotiated “VPN rights.” Sometimes the studio (or Netflix, in the case of shows like “House of Cards”) doesn’t even have the universal world-wide rights to the content.

        So, the VPNs and their users are engaging in piracy and causing damage to Netflix’s business relationships. I wonder why Netflix is NOT AGGRESSIVE in combatting VPNs. But then, I can get all the Netflix viewing I need in their one free month per year.

        • Chris Loughrey

          they obviously turn a blind eye as the majority of users outside the USA wouldn’t be customers of Netflix if they prevented VPN use and ripped them off by charging them the same price for half the amount of content as American users. Netflix knows that their international customer base would be heavily damaged without turning a blind eye to VPN. The studios I’m sure also turn a blind eye as it promotes their movies abroad. Nobody really cares apart from the movie distributors.

        • Chris Loughrey

          BTW VPN use isn’t considered piracy where piracy means illegally distributing licensed material. VPN is perfectly legal, there’s no current laws against it. It’s a matter between the owners of the content and Netflix to agree to ways to ensure it remains within a given geographical region, but it’s not illegal for the end users and not illegal for Netflix that people are bypassing their system. Nobody is breaking the law, the film studios don’t care, and it merely just upsets the distributors but there’s nothing they can do about it.