Thursday, Netflix announced that it plans to crack down on people using proxy servers to access content that isn’t licensed to be streamed in their country.
Due to the vagaries of licensing agreements with different content providers, not every country’s Netflix catalog is the same—in some cases, it’s not even close. So fans of shows not native to their country of residence have long used proxy servers or VPNs (virtual private networks) to spoof IP addresses, making it look like they’re in the country whose programs they want to watch.
Naturally, this has made a lot of content providers unhappy, and Netflix is putting its foot down—sort of. At CES, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt admitted that cracking down would be tough. “It’s likely to always be a cat-and-mouse game,” Hunt said. “[We] continue to rely on blacklists of VPN exit points maintained by companies that make it their job. Once [VPN providers] are on the blacklist, it’s trivial for them to move to a new IP address and evade."
And for the most part, users are openly defiant about Netflix’s decision, and plan to continue to work around limitations, or else revert back to pirating shows they can’t find at home. As MobileSyrup senior editor Patrick O’Rourke told me on Twitter, “I will continue to use proxies because it's impossible for Netflix to block every IP/DNS range...the DNS/VPN provider just switches to a new range.” Only one user suggested that VPNs and proxies might not be worth it, telling me via Twitter direct message that in his experience, those methods slow down streaming considerably. “If they do a complete ban—commercial VPN exit nodes and geo-IP restriction—then it's not worth setting up a private VPN due to the bandwidth costs,” he said.
They can't 'crackdown' on VPNs. Not possible. All bark, no bite. https://t.co/bWKTRkaE07
— peeved observer (@ulterial) January 15, 2016
@rachel_pick @motherboard Find new proxy. It's futile to make borders in Internet.
— Alex Indigo (@alexindigo) January 15, 2016
@rachel_pick @motherboard Just torrent the shows you want to watch. No need for Netflix.
— Adan Solis (@solis111) January 15, 2016
Not every user was quite as rational in their reaction, however. As Twitter user @Regrettable replied, “so far my only plan is crying.”