Last year Netflix announced its plans to offer its services worldwide. Pakistan also got access to the catalog of shows, movies, documentaries and other video content that the streaming service is famous for.
But very soon, many of the new subscribers to Netflix were disappointed to see that their geographical location determined how much (or less) content they were allowed access to.
Wanting to access the widest range of content that Netflix has to offer, many people resorted to using VPNs in order to trick the service into thinking that the user is from a particular country.
Given the rise in use of VPNs to access their content catalog, Netflix CEO Hastings announced plans to take counter-measures against the use of virtual private networks. The reason for justifying this move, according to Hastings, was that Netflix had to comply with local laws and licensing agreements so that the service can continue to operate in new territories.
New VPN-Busting Measures Have Left Users Angry
Netflix’s software engineers soon started work on circumventing VPNs, cutting off users in many territories from accessing the wider Netflix content catalog.
As a result of those geo-blockades working all too well, users can no longer use proxies or VPN services to sample new content. This was possible after the company applied commercial blacklist data to identify IP addresses that are linked to VPN services.
Some users are angry, because using a VPN was only a means for them to protect their privacy. This in turn has sparked off protests online, leading to the formation of an online petition calling for Netflix to stop their VPN crackdown.
To date, it has attracted 44,446 signatures. OpenMedia, the digital rights group behind the petition, has also sent a letter to Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix.
Here is an excerpt from the letter:
“Watching quality content, and knowing that creators are being compensated in the process is great. But we also love our privacy. And lately, as your subscribers, you just haven’t been treating us well,” the letter reads.
“[Blocking VPN connections] is a huge problem for our privacy conscious supporters, who use VPNs as an essential, user friendly tool to protect their privacy in a post Snowden world.”
“We are not unreasonable. We do understand that you have contractual obligations to the rightsholders whose content you distribute. But we believe that there are better ways for you to respect creators, and enforce your geographic restrictions and contractual obligations than by outright blocking your privacy conscious customers from using your service.”
The group has called for a meeting between Netflix and them.
CEO Hastings, just last month, revealed that the VPN crackdown hasn’t hurt the company’s financial results, and that complaints were restricted to a ‘small but vocal minority.’
What do you think folks? Has Netflix’s measures affected your decision to stop using the service? Do you think its a good or bad thing for the company to enforce geo-blocking? Let us know in the comments below.
You can also participate in the petition here.