Netflix recently went “global” and everyone got very excited. We’ve all heard good things about this streaming service, from the shows they have to the quality of their stream plus all the Netflix exclusives like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. It’s gotten so popular that we see it mentioned in TV shows themselves, that one time in Suits when Mike Ross wanted to piss Edward Darby off for example.
But, when we took a hard look at their catalogue from our Malaysian accounts, we were quite bummed out that there were so many shows missing. Even popular comedy series How I Met Your Mother wasn’t there. So the craftier of us went ahead and used VPNs (Virtual Private Network) and proxies to mask our IP addresses and as a result, gain more access to their content.
Well, it seems like Netflix has had enough of our scheming ways and has said openly that they’re putting a stop to VPN users once and for all.
For those of you who don’t know what a VPN or proxy does, it basically masks your IP address, preventing a website — Netflix for example — from finding out where you are connecting from. So, with a VPN or proxy you can set it up to have the site or app detect that you’re connecting from an American IP address, for example, then the region locked site would grant you access to their content as if you were coming from the US. If you’d like a more detailed explanation you can head on over to Gizmodo’s article on how VPNs work.
In short when it comes to Netflix, this allows you to bypass region restrictions and circumvent the walls Netflix have put up (because of licensing, censorship and other technical reasons) and have access to whatever content you want — something Netflix is clearly upset about.
In a blog statement by Netflix Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture David Fullagar, he said that Netflix would continue to enforce content licensing according to geographical location. However, they did say that they were working on making all their content available to all their subscribers — something they anticipate being able to do.
For now, though, they’re focusing on blocking proxies and ensuring that you can only access content from your own region. Although they didn’t say exactly how or when they would block the proxies aside from a vague “as technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it” line.
One possible way we could see them doing it is locking your account by credit card. For example, if you wanted to use an American account, you would have to have an American credit card, likewise, if you’re using a Malaysian credit card you can only access the Malaysian Netflix content. Although they could also take more drastic measures and force you to use your IC/identification numbers to register. Though we doubt it since it would cause some amount of hindrance to user experience. Either way, it looks like your proxy days are numbered.
If you want to know more about Netflix in Malaysia, check out our list of five things you should know about Netflix Malaysia.