Netflix 'unblockers' to be banned, making users unable to access content outside of their own country

The company has said before that it hopes eventually to make all content available all of the time, and has reaffirmed that as its ultimate plan

Netflix is going to stop the use of “unblockers” on its service, stopping the hugely popular practise that allows access to videos outside users’ country.

The company has long banned accessing content from elsewhere in its terms of service. But it has had a relatively relaxed approach to actually enforcing that ban, until now.

In the coming weeks, “those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies.”

Proxies, VPNs and unblockers all allow users’ computers to pretend that they are in another country, meaning that Netflix is unable to differentiate them from people genuinely in that location. Using them can allow people on the UK version of Netflix to pretend to be in the US, for instance, and gain access to all of that country’s videos.

The company has long said that it wants all of its content to be the same everywhere. It reiterated that argument, saying that if “all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in”.

"We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy," the company wrote. "That’s the goal we will keep pushing towards."

But that plan can’t happen because of local licensing laws, which mean that permission must be given separately in every country and so the videos on offer in different countries can vary hugely.

It isn’t clear how Netflix will be stopping the use of proxies. As such, it’s impossible to tell how successful it will be or whether it will limit the slightly more complicated techniques of using VPNs.

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