Netflix Imposes Harsher Restrictions on VPNs, Residential IP Addresses

Netflix Imposes Harsher Restrictions on VPNs, Residential IP Addresses

Netflix first began cracking down on VPN use in 2015, when movie studios began to complain about subscribers’ ability to bypass geographical restrictions by looping through encrypted third-party networks. Many VPN users responded by implementing networks that use residential IP addresses to make it look like they’re legitimate ISP subscribers. Now Netflix has declared battle on those, too, and like with any other type of battle, there have already been a few civilian casualties. Non-VPN users who belong to the same consumer ISPs to which some users’ VPNs are assigned (like AT&T or Verizon) have started to report missing content, despite never having used a VPN at all. Netflix’s own website says that the solution to this is for the user to call their ISP and ask if they’re associated with proxy or VPN use—but what to do with the ISP’s answer, Netflix doesn’t say.

Netflix Imposes Harsher Restrictions on VPNs, Residential IP Addresses

The streaming company isn’t new to making users’ lives difficult. Beyond working to prevent VPN use, Netflix decided earlier this year that it would boost both account security (cool) and business by imposing password-sharing restrictions that prevented multiple households from sharing an account (not cool, but unsurprising). It’s clear that Netflix will only become tougher on users who desire a “customized” experience.

Using a VPN to stream Netflix content isn’t illegal, nor is it technically against Netflix’s Terms of Use—the concept of a VPN isn’t even brought up once throughout the lengthy agreement. The Terms of Use does, however, state users “may view Netflix content primarily within the country in which [they] have established [their] account,” which is a gentle way of implying that users shouldn’t attempt to watch content from outside their home country. But you won’t go to jail for using a VPN; Netflix only warns that violations may result in termination or restriction of the service if said violations are found to be fraudulent or illegal.

For all the jokes we collectively make about refusing to read websites’ service agreements, they’re somewhat important to avoiding loss of service—and deciding if that next episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is worth it.

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