Efforts by Netflix to stop VPNs from circumventing regional content restrictions may be having an unintended consequence, TorrentFreak reports: Limiting content access for those who aren’t even using a VPN.
VPNs are commonly used to improve the privacy and security of internet connections that rely on public networks, like those found in coffee shops, hotels, and libraries. But an increasing number of VPN services have advertised their ability to make it seem like web traffic is coming from a certain location as a way to bypass streaming platforms’ location-based restrictions.
Some VPNs do this by using residential IP addresses as proxies in a bid to trick streaming services like Netflix into thinking the connection is a viewer on their home Wi-Fi network. But cracking down on those IP addresses can block people who are not using a VPN from viewing Netflix’s entire catalog.
TorrentFreak, which was tipped off to this issue by VPN provider WeVPN, cites numerous complaints on Reddit and Twitter. “The collateral damage is that you have hundreds of thousands of legitimate residential Netflix subscribers blocked from accessing Netflix’s local country full catalog from their home,” WeVPN tells TorrentFreak.
WeVPN—as well as rival services CyberGhost and Private Internet Access—have reportedly since come up with workarounds, according to TorrentFreak.
CyberGhost touts its ability to “help you access your favorite Netflix shows no matter where you are,” though in our June review of the service, we could only stream Netflix Originals while connected to a New York-based VPN server, and we had the same problem when connected to one of CyberGhost VPN’s servers optimized for Netflix streaming. More recently, we had no trouble streaming Netflix over a US-based Private Internet Access server.
We were not able to confirm how many people have had this issue, but Netflix says it’s fixed the problem for those who reached out. The company does not ban VPNs outright, but if you use them, you’ll be limited to Netflix Originals or other content Netflix is allowed to stream everywhere so as to avoid potential licensing problems.
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If you’re having this problem and have not been able to resolve it by contacting Netflix, the company also recommends contacting your ISP. As TorrentFreak notes, “one Redditor managed to get a new IP address from his ISP, which immediately resolved the problem.”
Chloe Albanesius contributed to this report.