Netflix this week started to block VPN users accessing other Netflix regions but VPN companies are already fighting back.
Early this month Netflix announced they would be expanding to around 190 countries worldwide with one massive swoop. Users from the new countries scrambled to sign-up but were left slightly disappointed after finding the movie catalogue severely limited compared to countries such as the US which has the biggest range of available movies.
Step in the VPN solution
For years users who already had access to Netflix made use of VPN services to disguise their online location and pretend to be in the US or elsewhere to gain access to a greater variety of content.
With the expansion came other news that after denying it would happen Netflix finally announced they would be clamping down on VPN use or so called “Netflix pirates” who gain access to other regions using a VPN service.
Netflix starts to block VPN users
In the last few days a handful of users have started to mention that they can no longer access other regions Netflix content but within hours of the blocks VPN companies stepped up to the plate and started to release fixes that again allow users to gain access.
It would appear that Netflix is using a simple method of blocking ranges of IP Addresses that are known to be associated with VPN companies but the system fails because VPN companies like IPVanish and VyprVPN have access to a massive amount of IP Addresses meaning it is relatively easy to swap in other access points that again circumvent the new blocks.
Privacy conscious VPN provider VPN.ac last week published a notice on their website regarding the block stating that they had seen the issue coming as other services like BBC iPlayer and Hulu have experienced similar VPN blocks in recent months.
VPN providers fight back and offer solutions
However as VPN.ac note, they themselves and other providers such as IPVanish quickly introduced fixes to bypass those blocks and within days or sometimes hours it was again possible to access BBC iPlayer.
As thousands of users make use of VPN services to access a wider catalogue range and a huge number of VPN customers sign up specifically for this purpose it will be in the interest of VPN companies to do their utmost to ensure access is possible.
While no one can predict the future it seems the method of blocking that Netflix has employed is the easiest to bypass and a game of cat and mouse is likely to now ensue between Netflix themselves and VPN providers.
Innocent users get hurt by Netflix blocks
As VPN service VyprVPN pointed out in a recent blog post the blockade will not only hurt users who access content but also those who use a VPN to bypass ISP throttling. Some ISPs make use of traffic throttling to limit the speeds of certain traffic at what they class “peak times”.
Traffic throttling is usually limited to Torrent and Newsgroup use but is often placed against video streaming services. Users who are throttled are often unable to play high quality 1080p or 4K content and use VPN services to bypass such throttling.
So while Netflix claims they are stopping region pirates they are also cutting off many other users who use VPN services to access Netflix while travelling abroad, in the military or even solely to protect their privacy.
Let the battle commence! If you want my tip though – my money is on the VPN providers.