Netflix says it will block proxy access to shows not available in Hong Kong

Netflix says it will block proxy access to shows not available in Hong Kong

Netflix has announced that subscribers will no longer be able to use proxies to watch content not available in their home region. That will include Hong Kong

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings delivers a keynote address in front of an image of actor Kevin Spacey (left) from "House of Cards" and an image of actress Ellie Kemper from "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt".
Photo: AFP

Netflix has announced that subscribers will no longer be able to use proxies to watch content not available in their home region.

That will include Hong Kong, which was among more than 130 countries and territories added to the reach of the video-streaming service last week.

Subscribers often resort to proxies, or servers that enable access to Internet content not available locally, to watch Netflix's popular shows such as House of Cards. That show is officially unavailable in Hong Kong, as are other popular series including Breaking Bad and Sherlock.

“If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn't be a reason for members to use proxies or unblockers,” David Fullagar, Netflix’s vice-president of content delivery architecture, wrote in a blog.

The company said it would clamp down on these proxies or unblockers in a few weeks.

“[We] have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere,” Fullagar wrote.

“Over time, we anticipate being able to do so. For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory. In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.”

The announcement comes just a week after Netflix went live in 130 new places, covering almost the entire globe except mainland China. It is now available in 190 countries and territories.

Netflix said at the time that all of its shows would not be available immediately to subscribers in certain countries, but that it was working towards resolving that.

“Ultimately, the aim is to provide a service around the world that is more similar than not. Using VPNs or proxies to virtually cross borders violates Netflix's terms of use because of licensing restrictions on TV shows and movies,” a Netflix spokesperson said.

In addition to Hong Kong, India, Nigeria, Russia and Saudi Arabia were also among the 130 places where the service was launched last week.

“The strategy is simple - they have a responsibility to content owners to only show that content in the geographies for which they have a license. Enforcing those restrictions is a Netflix responsibility,” said Brian Blau, research director at tech research company Gartner.

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