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Netflix VPN ban likely to be easily avoided

Published 21/01/2016

Netflix content varies wildly across the EU and rest of the world
Netflix content varies wildly across the EU and rest of the world

Netflix has banned VPN “unblockers” that allow people to watch content from other countries. But those bans are likely to be easy to circumvent.

The company has said that all that its crackdown amounts to is an enhanced blacklist for such unblockers. So anyone that creates them will probably be able to circumvent them or hide themselves.

Some companies that provide the unblockers have already said that Netflix will not be able to ban them, and that the technology will continue to work as normal.

Unblockers work by allowing people to pretend to be using their connection from another IP address. If one if used to watch content that is available on the American Netflix, for instance, the services will simply sit in the middle and take content from the US Netflix and pass it on.

The blocks are likely to work by allowing to Netflix to look out for the specific IP that known unblockers use. But companies will be able to shift those IPs around, using new ones once the bans come into effect.

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The company appears to have admitted that the blocks are no more sophisticated than widening out that list of IPs.

 “I don’t think we’ll see any impact,” CEO Reed Hastings said in a conference call. “We’ve always enforced proxy blocks with a blacklist, now we’ve got an enhanced and expanded blacklist, so I don’t think we’re going to see any huge change.”

The company has freely admitted that the new crackdown is in response to requests from content providers, rather than a decision that it has made itself. Mr Hastings said that the ban had come in response to “legitimate demands”.

Netflix has previously said that it wants to get rid of location-specific content entirely, in the future. Instead, it would rather have global licenses for TV shows, meaning that anything on Netflix would be available everywhere at the same time, in the same way that it does for its own shows.


Independent News Service

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