Earlier this month it was reported that Netflix was taking steps to update its proxy detection techniques in an effort to stop users from accessing content only available outside their own country. The company wants to make sure that anyone found using a VPN willl be directed to their regional site.
The announcement hasn’t gone down well with US citizens who work abroad, especially military personnel stationed overseas. In response, Netflix says that military bases will be able to access its library of US content.
“Netflix always exempts U.S. military bases around the world,” said Anne Marie Squeo, a spokeswoman for Netflix. “They will still be able to access the U.S. catalog.”
For most overseas servicemembers, however, Netflix's gesture isn’t enough, as many of them live off base and rely on VPNs to access the site’s US content.
Stars and Stripes reports that Petty Officer 2nd Class Shaundell Wright, a quartermaster with Yokosuka Navy Base’s Port Operations Dispatch, said being stationed overseas can be a culturally disorientating experience. The ability to access US media on Netflix allows her and her friends to feel closer to home, she said.
“For me Netflix is a way of being home. It boosts your morale by letting you watch the things you would be able to see at home,” Wright said. “We are already in a foreign country and everything is so different. So, to be able to watch Netflix feels good.”
Before Netflix’s announced crackdown on VPNs, the company revealed that it had expanded operations to 130 additional countries. Unfortunately, the content offered by Netflix in these areas is usually limited. The US version of the site has three times as many movies and TV shows as the Australian one, for example.
A Navy Counselor in Bahrain expressed his views on the geoblocking actions: “My VPN hasn’t been blocked. But if it does, I will be pi**ed. Netflix Bahrain is trash."
Netflix began its assault on VPNs by blocking some members of Australia’s uFlix service last week. The Melbourne-based company said it quickly discovered a workaround to the block and was putting additional measures in place before releasing it.