Netflix Updates Terms and Conditions To Legally Terminate Accounts Using VPN

<> on September 15, 2014 in Paris, France.

Netflix has updated its terms and conditions in order to clarify that they can legally terminate its users’ accounts if they are found to be using a VPN service.

Netflix features region-specific shows and movies, though many users have signed up to VPN services such as UnBlock-Us in order to change the region of their service. Now an update to the streaming platform’s policies strictly forbid its customers from employing the workaround, with the new T&C’s reading: “You may view a movie or TV show through the Netflix service primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location.

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“We may terminate or restrict your use of our service, without compensation or notice if you are, or if we suspect that you are (i) in violation of any of these Terms of Use or (ii) engaged in illegal or improper use of the service.”

Netflix opposing VPNs is obviously archaic, though it’s likely that broadcasters are applying the pressure for them to do so. Services such as UnBlock-Us make money off the back of Netflix but, users still need an active Netflix subscription to make use of them, so the streaming company doesn’t lose any money whatsoever from users opting to make use of the unofficial workaround. Unfortunately, broadcasters being against VPN and proxy services will inevitably drive customers to piracy, something which Netflix is keen to avoid.

Fortunately the company recognizes this, with CEO Reed Hastings recently stating his desires to make Netflix a global platform with no region-specific content. Speaking last week, Hastings said: “The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy.”

However, given that a global Netflix would require an agreement to be reached between the broadcasters the platform is affiliated with, it’s unlikely that this change will happen in the near future. Now that Netflix has updated its policies to forbid the use of VPNs, if they are to crack down on users of UnBlock-Us and other VPN/proxy services, it’s inevitable that they will see a dip in their number of subscriptions in regions outside of the US, which suffer from an underwhelming library of shows and movies. Hopefully this is just a case of Netflix covering themselves in the face of a backlash from broadcasters, and the company won’t follow up its updated policies with any account terminations.

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