It has long been common knowledge that Canadians can access a vastly superior media library on Netflix by pretending that they are in fact in the U.S..
However the extent to which Canadians were using the potentially shady practice of changing their IP address using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) was not fully appreciated until the results of a new study were released. Media Technology Monitor says that 29% of respondents admitted to changing their IP address in order to access the U.S. version of Netflix.
Of course this number may be even higher when you factor in that some people probably didn’t admit to changing their IP address. Online services often offer a vastly different product in the two nations, despite the fact that the neighbors share a common language, popular culture and an incredibly long border.
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Licensing differences and government regulations on media and broadcast entities are different in Canada, which means that there are huge discrepancies in content. It is not just Netflix users that are finding ways around these differences, with 40% of survey respondents admitting that they used fake IP addresses to access non-Netflix U.S. media content on the internet.
According to Cameron Hutchison of the Edmonton Journal, Netflix recently announced that it would be clamping down on users who use a VPN to fake their IP address in order to gain access to Netflix content not available in their home country, and commentators have been discussing the issue at length.
However Hutchison claimed that there is in fact nothing illegal about the practice, and went on to deconstruct relevant Canadian laws in defense of his point. He even claims that the use of a VPN may not even violate Netflix‘ terms of service, let alone Canadian national laws.
If Netflix does decide to punish those who use VPNs it may see a wave of protest from Canadian users who not only have become used to a wider choice of content, but are also convinced that they are not doing anything wrong.