Australians trying to access Netflix US via VPNs and DNS proxies have started reporting being blocked from the service, confirming the start of a planned crackdown on geo-dodgers.
Users of several services including uFlix and Unblock.us have today reported receiving the message: “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”
“Though it is only affecting a few users at the moment, we expect this number to grow,” uFlix said in a blog post.
“We are working on a solution to get around these new measures and apologise for the inconvenience to those who are currently only getting Australian Netflix.”
uFlix asked users that were experiencing Netflix’s blocks to submit information to enable the company to find a workaround.
The company later said in a tweet that it had “found a fix, but are putting an additional measure in place before we release it. Fun times.”
Another popular DNS service, Unblock.us, also started receiving reports today from customers that Netflix’s geo-blocks were taking effect.
“We are aware of [Netflix’s geo-blocking] announcement and should our service be affected at any time, we will make adjustments,” a spokesman for the firm said on Twitter.
Similarly, Smart DNS Proxy said it would investigate any reports of blocks “and do our very best to support any changes Netflix makes on their side”.
Though VPN maker TorGuard has not posted since the initiation of blocking, it urged users last week not to worry about any move Netflix made.
“Netflix will be pushing this plan forward soon, and when that happens, TorGuard will immediately deploy new server IP addresses so users can still bypass blocks,” it said.
The beginning of the crackdown comes after an announcement by Netflix’s architecture vice president David Fullagar last week that it would begin a fresh crackdown on so-called geo-dodgers within weeks.
Fullagar said that the company wanted to encourage customers to “enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy”.
However, presently not all titles available on Netflix’s US service are available on the company’s international services.
In addition, the company built a healthy base of international users on its US service for many years prior to the launch of local services in many of those countries.
In Australia, it’s estimated that between 70,000 and 200,000 people were Netflix subscribers before the company even had a local presence.
Australian rights holders have lobbied Netflix to stop geo-blocking “evaders” since at least 2014.
Data leaked from the hack of Sony later that year showed the studio was unhappy with Netflix’s efforts, labelling geo-dodgers as pirates that were “semi-sanctioned by Netflix”, according to a report by Arstechnica.
Netflix began a fresh initiative to crack down on geo-dodgers at the beginning of 2015.
Though it resulted in some blocks, it appears its 2016 efforts to date may hit more users than previous drives.
Resigned to an impending cut-off, some users simply started to binge.
On a Netflix documentary kick. Gotta watch that US programming before they block all VPNs. 😓
— Charlotte Edwards (@MsCharlotteX) January 21, 2016