Netflix shutting off proxy access to US version

Netflix are vowing to crack down on those who use proxies to access the US version of their service.

Netflix are vowing to crack down on those who use proxies to access the US version of their service.

Netflix are cracking down on "unblocker" proxies used to circumvent geographic restrictions and watch American content.

The streaming service, which is available in 190 countries including New Zealand, offers different films and TV shows to each country. 

Many viewers use proxy services, which route their connection through overseas servers, to access the American version of Netflix.

Netflix are vowing to halt this form of access.

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Netflix's VP of Content Delivery Architecture David Fullagar explained the upcoming change in a blog post.

"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."

No penalties were suggested for those who did use proxies. In the past, Netflix have displayed a somewhat muddled view on proxy access to their service, with some speculating the company unofficially supported the practice. This stance has angered media executives, who see the practice as "stealing".

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Netflix denied a rumoured crackdown on proxy usage early in 2015. 

Fullager acknowledged user's frustration, but said licensing restricted Netflix from offering the same service everywhere. They hoped to change this.

"We are making progress in licensing content across the world and, as of last week, now offer the Netflix service in 190 countries, but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere."

"For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory."

Netflix's terms of use already explicitly forbid the use of proxies to circumvent restrictions.

Licensing issues mean many popular shows are only available on the American Netflix.

Kiwi Netflix doesn't offer 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, or The Walking Dead. 


The blog post did not explain how Netflix's technical team would block proxy access. 

Some on Twitter were sceptical that they would be up to the task.

"Hulu has been trying to [block proxies] for ages - still not succeeding" wrote Jason Danner.

"Necessity is the mother of invention."

Indeed, even Netflix itself acknowledged the difficulty of blocking proxies in January of this year.

"Since the goal of the proxy guys is to hide the source it's not obvious how to make that work well," chief product officer Neil Hunt told The Globe and Mail.

"It's likely to always be a cat-and-mouse game."

 - Stuff


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