Netflix recently expanded to now service customers in 190 countries, which is a phenomenal feat. The rapid explosion of low-cost Internet streaming has improved the client’s entertainment experience and is likely reducing piracy. However, due to licensing restrictions, the company has stated that they will soon block access to Netflix over VPN to prevent customers from accessing geo-licensed content. If they follow through with this measure, they will also prevent law-abiding, privacy-conscious customers from using their service.
We Use Netflix
Netflix is the only source of digital entertainment my wife and I consume together, save the occasional YouTube video or Presidential debate. We intentionally do not have cable or even a television so that it is easier to be more selective about what we consume, something that a combination of Netflix and ad-blockers are better at providing. So, read this criticism from a very satisfied customer who wants to continue using the service.
In our home, the entrance to the VPN tunnel starts at our wireless router running DD-WRT. Any device connected to our local Wi-Fi network automatically tunnels through our ISP’s pipes to the VPN node out on the public Internet. While this does not completely protect all of our activity from snooping, it does separate location/IP from our browsing habits, which makes it more difficult for ISPs or government agencies to profile us. The only real mainstream services that I have found that block VPNs currently are Ticketmaster (a horrible service nevertheless) and Snapchat (which I am too old to understand).
Netflix, but Why?
Why is it that Netflix cannot serve content based on the locale of the client’s payment method? I suppose content licensing rests on the customer’s current location rather than that of their permanent residence, but this would be the ideal solution.
I also propose, then, that Netflix, which has become so dominant in the market, stiff-arms content owners who disallow global availability until they have no choice but to allow it. This would cause some temporary dissatisfaction in the near term when customers would have less content available, but in the long-term allowing any content to be consumable in any country should be the fair and ideal paradigm.
I love Netflix, and Jenny and I will likely watch the next couple episodes of our second run through “The Office” even tonight. However, if Netflix over VPN connections gets cut off, I will likely be forced to suspend our subscription.