Last January, and shortly after confirm their arrival to all countries (except China and those US embargo, of course), Netflix made a statement of intent: the service video on demand announcing detection Enhanced proxies and VPN, with the intention to cut off access to users who use such systems to skip the geographical blockade.
At that time did not give many details on the technology to use and how efficient it could become this, but now, months later, we are checking on our own flesh: some services offered by these resources work intermittently or, in some extreme cases, they have stopped working altogether. In fact, there have been cases of “home” VPN detected. But why Netflix has been serious about this and why now?
Why they are used and why now been blocked?
The first question is easy to answer: some Netflix users rely on proxies or VPN (Virtual Private Networks) to skip the geographical blockade imposed by the service. This made sense before, when from some countries could not access Netflix, but also now: the catalog is different in each country and in places like the United States, is far superior in quality and variety the rest.
“It is very difficult to detect VPN users,” Reed Hastings us (Netflix CEO) said in a press briefing last week. But why now blocked, and not before? “Well, also we blocked before. It’s just that we have now resorted to an external company with new techniques,” Hastings explained.
If anything, have shown us the company executives throughout all the interviews we’ve done is that it is difficult to get them out of official discourse, but in this case what it says Hastings contradicts what I said Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer in January 2015, before the growing rumors that claimed that Netflix had banned the VPN in its terms:
“Reports that say that we have changed our policy with the VPN are false. People used VPN to access our service from outside a zone will be in that still works just as it always had.” (Neil Hunt, Netflix Chief Product Officer, January 2015)
It seems logical to think that the fact that the service is global now may be one of the causes of this change in philosophy by Netflix. Before, with the VPN, the platform had customers even in countries where not offer their service (which also were potential customers when officially arrived). Although always (or almost always, which said Neil Hunt reference) showed themselves in public against the VPN, doors for inside saw clearly that did not harm them because they were people who also paid for their service. Better than nothing.
Now something similar happens: what does it matter that I, from Spain, from Netflix US with a proxy if Netflix will pay equally? This is where surely (note that these are my own musings about the lack of response Netflix) enter the copyright holders. You have forced content providers to implement a more aggressive policy against the VPN in exchange for global licensing deal with them? “No, content providers have always been against the VPN” he replied Reed Hastings.
In its official blog, and just when announcing the improved detection of these tools, the company claimed that this is a price to pay for being a global service. Yes, they advocate a global market where everyone can see the same content from any country but as yet the market does not reach that model, say they will continue “respecting and enforcing the licensing of content by geographic location.”Hastings explained the same thing in another interview in March:
“We have an obligation to respect the rights of content we buy. It’s a matter of justice. Others have paid for rights in Germany, then we must respect it, as we would expect the same from them” (Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix)
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VPN services, in trouble
There are people who use their own VPN to browse for security reasons, but there are also companies that advertised their services directly proxies as a method to bypass the geobloqueo Netflix, Hulu and other entertainment platforms. Since the new lock is established, these companies are seeing serious problems to continue offering unlimited access to Netflix. Just you need to look at messages sub reddit Netflix by Proxy to see the “mess” that these blockades have caused. Now it works, not now, now, not now…
Netflix has not given many details about what technology now used to detect and block VPN, unless it is something developed by third parties using other companies. Hastings said in March that it was “recognize IP addresses”, but possibly are using more comprehensive lists, lists that are updated every bit and some additional method.
Additionally, it appears that not only speak of blocking users, but also to any particular company. Unblock Us, one of the most popular solutions, not only did disappear a few weeks ago the name Netflix your website (until then used as bait), but announced that they were forced to stop using PayPal as a payment method .
The reason? Paypal, without specifically referring to them by name, saying that do not allow “the use of its service for transactions that violate copyright or other proprietary rights”, including, they say, “the intentionally allow access to series or movies in places where content distribution is not authorized by the copyright owners.”
And either pressure or on their own measures Netflix, there are many companies that are experiencing problems in addition to Unblock Us: The Next Web mentioned Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN and Mullvad, but the complaints Reddit you can see many more . And it seems that we lock while, with Netflix insisting that they will not backtrack: we live in a world of global services but regional content licensing, and this is a direct consequence.
And now more than ever, Netflix has very little to lose: their service works in all countries and people that used VPN to access it no longer needs. And people who resorted to them by catalog and now unable to access frustrated?