45,000 people sign open letter asking Netflix to end its VPN banBy Rob Thubron 12 comments
It was early this year when Netflix really starting cracking down on users attempting to circumvent its geoblocking technology. The streaming site updated its proxy detection techniques so members could no longer use VPNs to access content not available in their country.
In response to Netflix's actions, Open Media, a Canadian internet advocacy group, has published an open letter addressed to company CEO Reed Hastings asking the firm to stop blocking VPNs.
So far, nearly 45,000 people have signed Open Media's online petition, 'My Netflix, My Privacy,' which calls for Netflix to "stand up to big media bullies and not block pro-privacy VPN technology."
"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," writes Laura Tribe, Digital Rights Specialist for Open Media. "[Blocking VPN connections] is a huge problem for our privacy conscious supporters, who use VPNs as an essential, user-friendly tool to protect their privacy in a post-Snowden world."
While Open Media accepts that Netflix must adhere to its licensing agreements with the content owners, it believes that there are better ways of enforcing geographic restrictions than blocking VPN users.
"VPNs are one of the best and most accessible tools that Internet users have to protect our privacy. Whether it's from malicious criminal activities, government surveillance and censorship, or simply connecting to a weakly-secured hotel wi-fi system, our personal and private digital information is constantly being put at risk and made vulnerable online."
Tribe also takes issue with comments Hastings made at a recent Netflix earnings call, where he called VPN users "a very small but vocal minority" who were "really inconsequential to us."
"[...] we're not small, and we're not insignificant - but you did get one thing right: we are vocal. And we think it's important that our voices be heard. So far nearly 45,000 people have joined our campaign asking you to not block pro-privacy VPN technology," she said.
Open Media invited the CEO to discuss alternative options to its current geoblocking methods. Whether Hastings agrees, and if anything comes of it, remains to be seen.