Netflix Says It Will Crack Down On Customers Using VPNs To Access Its Global Catalog

Netflix went global earlier this month, and now the U.S. company has said it will crack down on customers who use VPN software to access content that is not available or licensed in their country.

“Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory,” Netflix said in a statement. “In coming weeks, those members using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.”

Many Netflix users — yours truly included — have long paid for the service and accessed it via VPNs from countries that weren’t supported prior to the huge international expansion. Netflix launching worldwide — in every market but China, Syria, North Korea and the Crimea — opened the service to new audiences, but there’s still a good reason to use a VPN: to gain access to the full Netflix international library rather than limited local selections, as I explained last week.

Netflix has traditionally been sympathetic to VPN users, but, now that the stakes are global, it has little option but to push back in order to appease content producers and the licensing agreements it holds with them. That said, policing VPNs is a whack-a-mole game. Content services and VPN software providers are both continually “evolving” — to use Netflix’s term — their technology, so there will almost certainly continue to be ways to VPN into global Netflix content, it just won’t be as easy as it is right now.

Ultimately, Netflix wants to remove the need to ever use a VPN by offering a universal catalog to all users worldwide, regardless of their location. But it admitted that it has “a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.”

So, to recap this week — using a VPN to watch Netflix is not ok, but sharing the password to a Netflix account is.