VPN Articles and News

NetFlix Beginning to Block VPNs?

Monday, January 26th, 2015

While Netflix is officially available only in a handful of countries, millions of people from all over the world access it on a daily basis. Like most streaming media providers, the company uses IP/location checks to lock its content but people can easily bypass them through VPNs, proxies as well as SmartDNS services. Most subscribers rely on these measures since the Netflix service is not available within their country but some people also use VPNs to access the U.S. version of the site since they are not happy with the quality of content or media library offered by the local version of the service. In addition, the VPN route is also preferred by expats, business travelers and tourists who are interested in watching their favorite TV shows or live events from abroad. Copyright owners are expectedly against the use of VPNs by the Netflix subscribers since it causes significant revenue loss to them, especially in the foreign markets. They have also accused Netflix (as well as other streaming media companies) of turning a blind eye to the VPN loophole in order to boost their bottom line.

However, if the recent media reports are to be believed, the days of accessing Netflix through VPNs might get over soon. In the first week of 2015, a lot of people experienced problems and reported errors while trying to circumvent location blocks of the service. The company has also made some fundamental changes to its Android app which would effectively shut down the VPN loophole for users of Android based mobile devices. The firm was reportedly under pressure from Hollywood studios and independent copyright owners for the past several months and its recent actions suggest that it has finally decided to act against VPNs and other IP changing services.

As per the reports, the latest version of Netflix’s Android app contains pre-configured DNS values to prevent circumvention of location blocks. The company has decided to hardcode Google’s public DNS values right into the app which cannot be changed under any circumstances. This is in stark contrast to the previous versions of the app where users were allowed to change the DNS values and use custom values of their choice. This would prevent Android users from using the DNS values supplied by their VPN or SmartDNS companies which in turn will stop them from using the app while they are travelling or staying abroad.

Update – After the news of its blocking the use of VPNs came to light, Netflix issued a statement which strongly denies that it has changed its policy towards VPNs or other IP changing services. However, experts believe that the company might be testing new IP blocks which could be implemented in the near future. And since the Android app continues to contain hardcoded DNS values, the company has started the process of blocking the use of VPNs. Most analysts do not expect Netflix to block VPNs altogether or expect it to take a decision in a hurry since the company derives a significant portion of its revenue from overseas subscribers.

January 26, 2015

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