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Netflix begins blocking VPN users

by on22 January 2016

Access to full content catalog now restricted

On Thursday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that some users in Australia are now being blocked when they use virtual private network (VPN) services in their home country to access Netflix content intended for other regions, primarily the United States.

Netflix’s current subscription plans license content by region. As a result, some regions have access to content that others do not. For example, the United States currently enjoys access to 100 percent of the company’s content library, which includes 1,157 TV shows and 4,593 movies. In comparison, the UK only receives 38.20 percent of the library (442 TV shows and 1,586 movies), while Ukraine receives 17.55 percent (203 TV shows and 562 movies), Taiwan receives 11.67 percent (135 TV shows and 385 movies), Russia receives 9.77 percent (113 TV shows and 509 movies), and Morocco only receives 3.37 percent (39 TV shows and 118 movies). The full list of content availability by country can be found here.

To work around these content limitations, many people have simply switched on VPN tunnels to spoof Netflix into believing that their IP address is from the United States.

In Australia, Melbourne-based service uFlix currently configures a user’s DNS and IP address settings into pretending that they are from a different country, such as the United States. As of recent, a small number of uFlix customers have received notices telling them to switch off their VPN tunnels.

“You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy,” Netflix said to its customers. “Please turn off any of these services and try again.”

The VPN crackdown currently only affects “a few users,” but that number is expected to grow in the next few days.

"The blocking is currently not aggressive and we believe (for the moment) they are only testing the new blocking methods on their customers," uFlix managing director Peter Dujan told Fairfax Media. "We suspect that they are blocking known IP ranges and gaining additional information from the user's browser or mobile device and comparing it to the proxy and user IP addresses."

netflix availability q1 2016

Netflix availability by country (January 2016)

At CES 2016, the company announced immediate global availability of its video streaming services in every country except for China, Crimea, Syria and North Korea. Mainland China access is complicated due to current government regulations, while Crimea, Syria and North Korea are excluded due to US government trade restrictions.

Last modified on 22 January 2016
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