Netflix has been accused of blocking subscribers who use tools like VPNs to watch films and TV shows not permitted in their country.
The video streaming giant is reportedly cracking down on users that circumvent geo-location restrictions after apparent pressure from movie studios which want full control over what people can watch where, according to TorrentFreak.
Netflix has rejected the claims, insisting their VPN policies have not changed.
Some subscribers use tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) to fool Netflix into thinking they are somewhere else in the world, and therefore able to access a different set of movies and television shows illegally.
Movie studios, unhappy that some Netflix users are breaching their licensing agreements, have reportedly asked that Netflix starts punishing subscribers who use VPNs — even if it impacts legitimate streamers.
Although Netflix has plans to expand into new territories, it is currently available in only a few dozen countries, each with its own video library.
In the past few weeks, Netflix has been accused of taking action against VPN and other users; the site’s Android app, for instance, is forcing Google DNS to make it harder to use DNS location unblockers.
Ben Van der Pelt, from TorGuard, a major VPN provider that last month reported an increase in users having access problems, told Torrent Freak: “This is a brand new development. A few weeks ago we received the first report from a handful of clients that Netflix blocked access due to VPN or proxy usage.
“This is the very first time I’ve heard Netflix displaying this type of error message to a VPN users.”
The consensus on social media is that, if true, this move could be damaging to Netflix, pushing some users to torrent the films and TV shows they can no longer stream.
Developer James Hull tweeted: “So studios pressuring Netflix to block VPN access. They really don’t have a clue. People will just cancel and go back to pirating.”