Netflix Wants You To Stop Talking About Its 'VPN Crackdown'

At the start of the week, a story surfaced that Netflix was quietly cracking down on people using VPN tunnels to access their service from areas where it hadn't officially launched yet. Turns out that not only is the story less than accurate, it's also kind of annoying to Netflix.

The story initially came from TorrentFreak, which picked up the news that Netflix's Android app had started "forcing" Google's free DNS address service onto users. The end result of such a change would make Netflix harder to access via a VPN service, which makes the streaming service think you're accessing it from the US.

The problem here is that it wasn't Netflix's intention to cleverly crack down on VPN users accessing the service when they shouldn't be. The app update was a move from Netflix to improve stability for streaming users on the platform.

We actually ran the story ourselves, pointing to the TorrentFreak report about the DNS change. Whoops.

The interesting thing about this story isn't the story itself. It's the story behind the story.

You see, at CES today, we were invited by Netflix to attend a roundtable and talk about all their new announcements like HDR partnerships and preferred TVs. We'll be writing more about those tomorrow. It's all very exciting.

Our briefing was at 4pm, and the team had been pretty much giving the same presentation to journos from around the world all day, and from the sounds of things, at every briefing the VPN question had been asked in one form or another.

I ran into a colleague from another publication who told me he had asked the question, and got an answer. But it seemed that it was a question too far.

Before we were allowed to sit down to our briefing, a Netflix spokesperson came out and asked us not to discuss the VPN issue with the attendees, saying that the story was wrong from the start.

Instead, Netflix reiterated its statement on VPN users — which we've printed before and will print again below — and handed out an article from The Motley Fool which is an excellent dissection of the myths around Netflix and its VPN "crackdown". You should read it too.

Here's its official statement, for reference purposes:

"Virtually crossing borders to use Netflix is a violation of our terms of use because of content licensing restrictions. We employ industry standard measures to prevent this kind of use. We have not recently made any changes."

The bottom line? Netflix doesn't want you using your VPN to get into the service, and would probably rather you stopped talking about it, too.

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News


    Netflix re-iterates it's official company line about VPN's, but will quite happily take anyone's money for the time being.

      But sounds like from the last line that they dont want us talking about it because they dont want people to know that using VPN to access their service is currently an option.

      Yorp. The "It's violating our ToS and we could cut you off if we want ... but nnnaaah, too hard basket and you're giving us money."

    Don't trust anything Luke has to say about Netflix. He's been paid off!

      LOL I'm not sure whether your taking the piss or actually being serious...

    Give us content that isn't region locked and there won't be any issues.

      Circumvent many laws and there will be no problem.

        VPN users are violating Netflix's terms of use not breaking laws as I understand it.

          This is correct. Using a VPN is still a very grey area. No one has yet tried to arguing that using a VPN to unblock content brakes any law. Worst they can do is cancel your subscription.

    Until such time as i and the rest of this country gets decent internet and hence will see significant investment in the private sector delivering services... tough shit i will continue to spread the word and use my connection how i see fit.

    If nothing has indeed changed then really the stance seems to be the same as it always was, namely that yes it's against their TOS but they aren't going to go to great lengths to stop people.

    Regardless I can see why they don't want people talking about it. Either they are moving to block VPNs in which case its bad PR, or they aren't in which case the PR may lead to repercussions down the line where they are forced to do more to block services. Given how many people can still access Netflix just fine from unsupported regions, for now I like to think that it's a case of the later being true.

    I said it before in another comment... but the whole situation with this story and the way it is getting relentlessley pushed even after being debunked, at the same time that a rival service is launching... it stinks of a disinformation campaign

    Its not really their fault anyway. The publishers / movie studios wont give them the content if they dont agree to geoblocking.

    Check out The list of least mentioned shows and movies airing this year on Netflix.

    and regarding the news of Netflix blocking VPNs .. its bogus. endgadget published an article today.

    Last edited 07/01/15 11:13 pm

    Google: edit android host

    Substitute the IP of googleDNS for the DNS of your choice.

    Luke, you are stretching a bit with, "colleague from another publication". Gizmodo does not qualify as a publication using most commonly accepted definitions of a publication.

      "The act or process of publishing matter in print or electronic form."

      Sounds like a publication to me.

      You are wrong. To publicate something means to make it available to the general public, which is us, the readers, for those playing along at home. Therefor, this is a publication.

        Publicate! Surely you mean publish!

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