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By James

Netflix pic from 

Sign the petition against Netflix VPN ban….. Or just look for another solution

Netflix recently began cracking down on users of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). This means that people outside of the US can no longer spoof their geographic locations to access Netflix’s US catalog.

The decision was met with outrage as thousands signed a petition. Many customers are lamenting the fact that customers who use VPNs to stay safe online are being unfairly targeted in the clampdown.

When Netflix warned about the ban initially, most people took it for empty threats. However, recent evidence has shown that Netflix might lose its paying customers as a growing number of VPN providers are finding their networks on the blacklist.

Why are Netflix customers using VPNs?

Netflix customers outside of the US are using VPNs to changing the appearance of their geographic location to a US IP address to access the US Netfix. It is commonly known that the US Netflix library has the widest range of shows and movies, even though Netflix customers all pay the same amount in subscription. Thousands of people in the UK, Australia and Canada use this technique to watch shows not available as part of their native subscription.

What are the petitions saying?

Petitioners say that the ban is an affront on their ability to get value for their money while undermining overall online privacy. They also feel that the current situation is a push towards illegal alternatives, such as torrent sites. The claims are understandable as  Netflix is applying a blanket approach where all users of VPNs are banned, irrespective of whether they are bypassing geographical restrictions with the VPN or not.

The privacy concerns are legitimate because VPNs direct traffic through other networks, ensuring anonymous web surfing and avoiding cyber-spying.

Why did Netflix initiate the ban?

The reasoning behind the ban is to find a way of appeasing copyright holders who make money by selling films and shows across different countries. (This is a legitimate concern because copyright laws in the U.S. are tough, and Netflix could get into a lot of trouble if they don't comply with the laws, which could have a major impact on their business)

What has Netflix done in reaction to petitions?

They have always maintained the fact that restrictions will remain in place until they can negotiate license models that will make content available to everybody.   Industry experts believe it is only a matter of time before they arrive at such an agreement with copyright holders.

In the meantime, users are being forced to make the decision between Netflix and their privacy. People who can’t do away with the security offered by VPNs have left the service. Many of those who only subscribed to VPNs for spoofing their location have been forced to choose between a more limited library of shows or have cancelled their Netflix subscription.

There is, however, a third group who have simply ignored Netflix and gone for an alternative. The alternative that is currently being used by many is Smart DNS as a workaround to the Netflix VPN Ban. This is a proxy service that masks IP address and location of the user, making it possible to bypass geographic restrictions (although it doesn’t offer the same security and privacy benefits as a VPN). Netflix’s engineers haven’t been able to clamp down on this alternative, also known as DNS proxy. Until they do something to address privacy concerns and complaints over restricted content, this alternative is likely to remain in use.

Will the VPN Ban be lifted?

Despite growing discord among a segment of Netflix customers, CEO Reed Hastings has described VPN users as inconsequential, meaning it's highly unlikely the ban will be reversed any time soon.

The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The TV MegaSite or its other volunteers.

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Page updated 6/1/16

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