Netflix says it has not made any changes to the way it deals with users who try to access content from the version of the service in another country. But it’s reiterated that doing so is a violation of the terms of service.
Several reports had claimed Netflix was cracking down on people who use virtual private networks and other workarounds to make it appear as if they are accessing the service from a different country. Netflix doesn’t have country-specific accounts as such; rather one account lets you access whatever content is licensed for the country you are (or appear to be) currently in.
At a meeting at the CES conference covered by CNET, Netflix’s Neil Hunt said the reports of a crackdown were “categorically false.” He added that “people who are using a VPN to access our service from outside of the area will find that it still works exactly as it has always done.”
Hunt elaborated that the only change Netflix has made is on its Android app, which now falls back to use Google’s DNS if the user’s own DNS provider times out.
Contacted by the BBC, Netflix noted “Our terms of service state that you are not allowed to virtually cross borders because of content licensing systems.”
In practice, it certainly appears that the main aim of both the terms of service and Netflix’s [seemingly limited] use of technology to enforce regional restrictions is to do the bare minimum to keep content providers satisfied.
While it could never say so publicly, it’s most definitely in Netflix’s interests that customers are able to figure out ways to get around geoblocks, whether that’s customers outside the US wanting to access its TV catalog, US customers wanting the ability to access the “full” service when travelling abroad, people wanting to take advantage of the fact that some movies show up earlier in Netflix in countries such as Brazil, or people in places like Australia where Netflix isn’t yet available.