Netflix Forces Users to Choose Between Privacy and Entertainment

May 27, 2016 update: the OpenMedia campaign has nearly 50,000 signatures now.  In an effort to draw attention to the cause and hopefully a reaction from Netflix, OpenMedia is driving around Silicon Valley with this message:

OpenMedia Netflix message

In an attempt to discourage users from streaming content in other countries, Netflix has taken a hard stance on the usage of VPN.  Over the weekend they went a step further and are now blocking most VPN users from reaching the service.  We can debate whether or not it’s acceptable to switch Netflix locations.  That’s a business decision that has been made.  The biggest issue is the collateral damage.  The approach Netflix is taking puts them on the wrong side of user privacy.  The problem is that you can’t access the service when connected to a VPN in your own country.  In doing so Netflix is forcing users to choose between privacy and entertainment.  That’s not acceptable under any circumstance and users are starting to voice their opinion.  OpenMedia has launched a “My Netflix My Privacy” campaign to help give users a voice.

My Netflix My Privacy

I encourage all Netflix users to sign the petition.  This will give the OpenMedia team the power necessary to take the message directly to Netflix.  Anyone who remembers Flixter knows that Netflix is not beyond changing course if enough users voice opposition to their strategy.  Regardless of whether or not Netflix chooses to block users from switching regions, the company needs to keep user’s privacy in mind.  There has to be a better solution than their current approach of blocking VPNs outright.  Perhaps Netflix could compare the billing address with the country you are connecting from.  If the two match then don’t block access, even if the IP address is known to belong to a VPN service.  If enough users voice their criticism then Netflix will be more likely to change course.

The use of encryption to help protect your online privacy is growing in importance every day.  As a long time Netflix customer I will be cancelling my account until I can use a VPN from my home country to access the service.  There are plenty of other entertainment options available.  I won’t trade my privacy for a few laughs and I encourage you not to either.  Let Netflix know that you stand behind the need for privacy by signing the My Netflix My Privacy petition and sharing the issue with others so their voice can be heard as well.