Netflix is reportedly blocking overseas users of virtual private networks, or VPNs, which are utilized to circumvent the geoblocks being implemented by the company.
The incident occurs right after a major industry group that represents the holders of movie rights and movie distributors confirmed that the group's members were pushing Netflix to block users from outside the United States to access the United States version of Netflix's services.
Netflix is available in almost 50 countries all over the world, with the content of the provider varying between locations according to licensing arrangements in each country. However, for regions where Netflix is unavailable, such as Australia, consumers are still able to access the United States version of Netflix through the usage of a VPN or similar tools that are used to mask the IP address of users.
Within Australia, up to 200,000 households have access to US Netflix, as revealed by the company. Reports, however, reveal that those households will be blocked from accessing the service.
A report by TorrentFreak revealed that Netflix has started forcing the Google DNS lookup service on its app for the Android operating system through a released update for version 3.7.2. This allows the app to bypass DNS masking tools such as VPNs that the user has set up. VPN services such as TorGuard, Unblockus and UnoDNS have confirmed the move by Netflix.
"This is a brand new development," said Ben Van der Pelt of TorGuard to TorrentFreak.
According to Van der Pelt, TorGuard received reports a few weeks ago from a few clients regarding Netflix blocking access due to the usage of VPNs or proxy networks, which is the first time that he has heard of the service displaying such an error message to VPN users.
Van der Pelt suspects that Netflix is temporarily testing new methods for blocking IP addresses in select regions. Van der Pelt adds that the blocks are not aggressive at this point, which could mean that Netflix is only targeting IP address ranges that are exceeding the limits of simultaneous log-ins.
However, despite such reports, Netflix is denying of such new developments and measures being implemented.
According to a spokesperson for Netflix, the company has not made any changes regarding its policies for VPN users.
Cliff Edwards, Director of Corporate Communications and Technology for Netflix, discussed the company's VPN policy in a recent visit to Australia prior to the service's launch in the country. However, he repeatedly dodged answering questions on whether Netflix will block VPN users in Australia from accessing the United States version of Netflix after the service is launched in the country.