Netflix started blocking VPN users aggressively this year to enforce geographical restrictions, and this resulted in a massive backlash from users. About 45,000 people signed a letter asking Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to reverse the company’s VPN ban, says Torrent Freak.
Netflix interfering with users’ privacy
Earlier this year, the video streaming giant announced plans to increase its efforts to block customers who circumvent geo-blockades. Since the beginning of those efforts, which were called for repeatedly by various movie studios, it has become more difficult to use VPN services and proxies to access the streaming giant’s content from other countries.
Netflix uses commercial blacklist data to block IP addresses linked to such services. This affects customers who merely use a VPN to protect their privacy. Wide protests have been sparked by this broad blocking policy, and about 44,446 Internet users have signed a petition launched by digital rights group OpenMedia. This petition asks the video streaming giant to stop the VPN crackdown.
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OpenMedia sent a letter delivering this message to Hastings yesterday. The letter begins by saying that all who have signed the petition love Netflix, but they do not like how the streaming giant handles their privacy.
“Watching quality content, and knowing that creators are being compensated in the process is great. But we also love our privacy. And lately, as your subscribers, you just haven’t been treating us well,” the letter reads.
Group invites Hastings to discuss alternatives
The letter further reads that in a post-Snowden world, this VPN block is a huge problem for privacy-conscious subscribers. Further, the letter says that they do understand Netflix’s contractual obligations to the rights holders whose content the video streaming giant distributes, but they do believe that there are better ways to enforce their geographic restrictions and contractual obligations and while also respecting content creators.
The group invites Hastings to discuss these alternatives. For example, the video streaming giant could link content libraries to credit card addresses, OpenMedia spokesperson David Christopher told TorrentFreak.
“We hope that you will consider the needs and privacy of the millions of Internet users around the world who value your service, by demonstrating that you are open to new and innovative solutions – the very root of what Netflix was founded on,” the letter concludes.
As of now, there have been no comments from Netflix on the letter. Netflix’s recent stance on VPNs has not hurt its results, and the complaints come from a small but vocal minority, said Hastings during an investor call last month.