Netflix cracks down on users who bypass regional locks

Posted at 8:24 AM, Jan 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-05 08:24:23-05

NEW YORK — For years, Netflix viewers living abroad have been able to trick the streaming video service into letting them watch American shows. That trick no longer works.

Netflix has always restricted certain American content from being watched in foreign countries, due to licensing agreements with movie and television studios. Customers have been able to bypass those restrictions with a virtual private network or software that masks the location of your IP address. Those tools can make Netflix think you’re in the United States, even if you’re in a different country.

Now, it appears that Netflix is cracking down on those tactics. Netflix customers living abroad are reporting on social media that they can no longer view American shows on Netflix using a VPN.

The streaming service is available in 50 countries, but Netflix’s content licenses vary from nation to nation. For instance, a show that is available on Netflix in England might not be available in the United States, and vice versa.

Movie studios have complained to Netflix about customers’ ability to bypass restrictions and view content that isn’t licensed in their region, according to news reports.

A spokesman for Netflix could not immediately be reached for comment.

The VPN blocking doesn’t yet appear to impact every Netflix app. Reddit users have reported that the Netflix’s Android app now no longer streams content if customers bypass Google’s servers with a VPN. But the update doesn’t yet appear to impact the iPhone app.