Sorry, Neighbors: Netflix Canada Cracks Down on VPN Users


Canadian Netflix users will have to find another way to watch Ally McBeal or Sons of Anarchy: The streaming service is cracking down on proxies that conceal location.

This is not a surprise: Netflix in January announced a new effort to curb the use of "unblockers," which fool Netflix systems into thinking viewers are in a country with access to US TV shows and movies. But now it's actually going into effect, leaving the 2 million Canadians who use virtual private networks to stream Netflix irked by the lack of access enjoyed by those in the US, The Hollywood Reporter says.

CBC News reports an increase in complaints on social media about VPN services no longer working with Netflix, while TorrentFreaks says it spoke "to several VPN service providers who have seen an increase in blocking efforts over the past several weeks."

While Netflix has technically not supported the use of VPNs to watch content from other countries all along, it seemed as though the streaming service never really made an effort to crack down on the practice until earlier this year. Why? Though it has a variety of impressive original content to offer its customers, Netflix must still broker licensing deals with studios for everything else. But those studios are likely less inclined to make deals with Netflix if the company cannot ensure that geographic restrictions will be enforced. Couple that with huge international expansion in January that opened Netflix to 190 countries. 

Netflix competitors like Bell Media's CraveTV and Shomi and aren't complaining. "It is encouraging to see increased respect for content licensing," Shomi General Manager David Asch told THR.

Netflix and Bell Media declined to comment; Shomi did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

Canadian viewers can still watch Netflix originals like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, House of Cards, and Pee-Wee's Big Holiday—so all is not lost.

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