When Netflix recently expanded into 190 different countries, we noted that the company ramped up its efforts to block customers that use VPNs to watch geo-restricted content. More accurately, Netflix stepped up its efforts to give the illusion it seriously cracks down on VPN users, since the company has basically admitted that trying to block such users is largely impossible since they can just rotate IP addresses and use other tricks to avoid blacklists. And indeed, that’s just what most VPN providers did, updating their services so they still work despite the Netflix crackdown.
Netflix’s frankly over-stated “crackdown” is an effort to soothe international broadcasters, justly worried about licensing content to a company that is demolishing decades-old broadcasting power centers. But even superficial as it may be, Netflix’s crackdown on VPNs still managed to erode user privacy and security, since obviously there are countless people using VPNs for reasons other than engaging in global Netflix tourism.
With that in mind, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings probably didn’t win any new friends this week when stated on the company’s latest earnings call that VPN users are loud but, ultimately, “inconsequential”: