Netflix VPN ban outrages UAE residents

ABU DHABI // A crackdown by Netflix is blocking access to customers’ accounts in their home countries, greatly limiting the programmes they can watch. In a warning this year that coincided with its global launch, Netflix said the online streaming service would stop subscribers using VPNs [virtual private network] accessing accounts anywhere but the UAE. […]

ABU DHABI // A crackdown by Netflix is blocking access to customers’ accounts in their home countries, greatly limiting the programmes they can watch.

In a warning this year that coincided with its global launch, Netflix said the online streaming service would stop subscribers using VPNs [virtual private network] accessing accounts anywhere but the UAE.

Users are redirected to the UAE site when trying to access their account, with a catalogue that is dwarfed by those in the US and UK.

Angry users, mostly expatriates, have expressed their frustration on social media. Some complain the latest series of Netflix series House of Cards is unavailable. “Bye bye, Netflix,” one tweeted last month after finding his account had been blocked.

Netflix vice president David Fullagar blogged in January: “Some members use proxies or ‘unblockers’ to access titles available outside their territory.

“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.”

Netflix’s vice president for communications, Joris Evers, said that “ultimately, the goal is to provide a service around the world that is more similar than not”.

“Until we can offer all our programming globally, we have to deal with the reality of territorial licensing. We’re moving as quickly as we can.”

One technology website, theverge.com, said the UAE’s Netflix catalogue had been ranked 215 out of 244 countries.

While users may lament the VPN crackdown, the industry is applauding the move.

“By clamping down on illegal access, which is piracy, what we’re seeing is action by service operators such as Netflix and others in the US to assist in the fight against piracy, which is a vital fight to protect the intellectual property rights that we pay handsomely for,” said David Butorac, chief executive of OSN.

“Now suddenly, when they have domestic businesses they need to protect, they’re identifying VPN access from markets like this into the US and they’re blocking it.”

Maaz Sheikh, president of online streaming service Starz Play, said streaming services such as his can better compete with Netflix UAE.

esamoglou@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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