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Netflix cracks down on location masking services

tech Updated: Jan 15, 2016 11:46 IST

Netflix said it would clamp down on these proxies or unblockers in a few weeks.(Pixabay)

Remember the clever little app -- smartflix -- that gave you access to all of Netflix’s global content, Netflix isn’t very happy about you using it. Video-streaming service provider says it’s going to crack down on proxies used by subscribers to watch content not available in their home country.

Subscribers often resort to proxies, or servers that facilitate access to Internet content not available locally, to watch Netflix’s popular shows such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. This was the general practice even before the service was launched in India. The additional subscribers that Netflix had, from countries it wasn’t operating in a few weeks back, essentially had access to all their content. But post launch, Netflix’s VP seems unhappy about the same technology that earlier served as a boost.

“If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or unblockers,” David Fullagar, Netflix’s vice president of content delivery architecture, wrote in a blog.

The company said it would clamp down on these proxies or unblockers in a few weeks.

The announcement comes just a week after Netflix went live in more than 130 countries, covering almost the entire globe except China.

Read more: Netflix too pricey for unconnected India, may face net neutrality issues

Netflix said at the time that all of its shows would not be available immediately to subscribers in certain countries, but that it was working towards resolving that.

“Ultimately, the aim is to provide a service around the world that is more similar than not. Using VPNs or proxies to virtually cross borders violates Netflix’s terms of use because of licensing restrictions on TV shows and movies,” a Netflix spokesperson told Reuters.

India, Nigeria, Russia and Saudi Arabia were among the 130 countries where the service was launched last week.

“The strategy is simple -- they have a responsibility to content owners to only show that content in the geographies for which they have a license. Enforcing those restrictions is a Netflix responsibility,” Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, told Reuters.

So, use the weekend wisely and catch-up on the shows and movies that you can access only via VPNs, proxies or Smartflix on Netflix.

Read more: Here’s our complete guide to Netflix in India.