Netflix says it’s “evolving” its technology to fight people who use unblocking services, like proxy servers and VPNs so that the more than a third of Netflix subscribers in English Canada that use the U.S. version of the site will no longer be able to.


The result will be that people will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.  The Netflix company blog that addressed the situation read:

Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies.

We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy. That’s the goal we will keep pushing towards.

Just earlier this week Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said that it currently wasn’t “obvious” how to create an effective way to block unblocking services.  Adding that they continue to rely on blacklists of VPN exit points maintained by companies that make it their job. Once [VPN providers] are on the blacklist, it’s trivial for them to move to a new IP address and evade,” he said.

It’s unclear whether Netflix’s new “evolved” strategy still relies on blacklists of unblocking services.


Netflix also says however, it’s working on making the need for accessing Netflix in other countries unnecessary — by offering the same movies and TV shows everywhere. The thinking is that if everything is available everywhere…problems solved!  Not easy to do however.  Why?

Well for starters, Netflix has previously said doing so would be difficult, and in some cases maybe not even be desirable as content rights  between TV networks and local affiliates sometimes are in effect for many years and then there is the issue that what may be appropriate in one country may not fly in another.

A New Age of Technology Laws?

Law firm Fasken Martineau suggested last year that a copyright law change made by the previous Harper government may have made accessing U.S. Netflix in Canada illegal.  And there is talk that the Trudeau government is looking at the possibility of banning VPN and proxy services outright, which would in effect make access to U.S. Netflix illegal.

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