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.
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.
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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