My Netflix, My Privacy

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 My Netflix, My Privacy

News reports say Netflix has already begun blocking paying customers who are using privacy-protecting services like virtual private networks (VPNs).1,2

The move comes in response to pressure from media giants3 who want to 'geoblock' us from our favourite content.4

Blocking VPNs means innocent customers will become collateral damage: it will block VPN users from accessing domestic content they paid for,5 undermine privacy,6 and could push users to illegal alternatives.7

Tell Netflix NOW: “Stand up to Big Media bullies and do not block pro-privacy VPN technology.”

This campaign is hosted by OpenMedia. We will protect your privacy, and keep you informed about this campaign and others. Find our OpenMedia's privacy policy here.

Large media conglomerates are pressuring Netflix to block paying customers from accessing content unavailable in their home country. To do this, they plan to block the use of pro-privacy VPN services.8

If Netflix caves to these media giants, it would block paying customers from using the service on their own terms, undermine customers’ privacy, and push users to illegal alternatives.

Learn more by checking out this awesome infographic from our friends at NordVPN.

To be clear, content creators should be paid for their awesome work – and that’s why it’s been so encouraging seeing fans worldwide going out of their way to pay to watch their favourite shows and movies.

We all know the best way to reduce piracy is by offering accessible, high-quality, legal content9 – not by imposing fake borders on the Internet. That's why we agree with Netflix's long-term plan for global licensing. In the meantime, we think that fans who go out of their way to use paid services like Netflix deserve a voice.

Let’s face it: the Internet is the best content delivery technology available, but big, outdated business models want to block, throttle, and carve it into Cable TV 2.0.10

Here’s what this could mean for everyday users:

Want to access domestic Netflix while using a VPN to protect your privacy? Sorry, too bad. It's Netflix, or privacy – you can't have both.

Want to bypass your ISP throttling your Netflix connection because you live in a country without Net Neutrality protections?11 Get ready to live with the buffering icon.

Tell Netflix NOW: “We enjoy your service because it offers user-friendly choice. Stand up to large media giants and do not block pro-privacy VPN technology.”


Open Letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dear Mr. Hastings,

I am writing on behalf of OpenMedia, a community-based organization that works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.

We love Netflix. We’re customers because we love your services and we love supporting creators. 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. Over the past few months, Netflix has begun blocking VPN users from accessing any content in the Netflix library, as a way to enforce national licensing restrictions. This 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.

On a recent earnings call, you said that VPN users were “a very small but quite vocal minority,” that are “really inconsequential to us.” Well, 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.

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.

In countries without net neutrality protections, video streaming is being throttled by Internet service providers. Under repressive governments, immense quantities of content are being blocked by governments trying to control what their citizens can and cannot access. And in ALL countries around the world, the very structure of the Internet exposes each of us to incredible threats to our private and personal data, which we must take care to protect.  

We need easy, accessible, and effective tools to protect our privacy online while still enjoying the Internet we love – and VPNs do just that.  

We shouldn’t have to choose between Netflix and privacy.

There is a wide range of reasons that Internet users rely on VPNs to secure their Internet traffic. According to Global News, the primary reason that 2 of 3 VPN users utilize a VPN service is not for accessing Netflix content. But thanks to your recent changes, VPN users can no longer access domestic Netflix content without exposing themselves online.

Yes, we think that content should be globally licensed, and that geoblocking content is a tactic that undermines the very ethos of the internet – a globally connected world, where everyone has access to the same information and resources, regardless of the country you live in.

And your own business model supports this! On your own site, you mention that you want to make your content globally available. Much of your own original content is available in all of the countries Netflix is operating within. But the second that we as users decide to add our privacy into the mix, it all falls apart and our access is completely denied.

We are not unreasonable. We do understand that you have contractual obligations to the rights-holders whose content you distribute. But we believe that there are better ways for you to respect creators, and enforce your geographic restrictions and contractual obligations than by outright blocking your privacy-conscious customers from using your service.

We would like to invite you to meet with OpenMedia to discuss this issue in person. We have a few ideas, and we’re sure that you do too. They might not be as easy, but they will definitely help position Netflix as a privacy-conscious leader in this field, and show your support for a large and critical portion of your users.

We hope that you will consider the needs and privacy of the millions of Internet users around the world who value your service, by demonstrating that you are open to new and innovative solutions – the very root of what Netflix was founded on.


Laura Tribe
Digital Rights Specialist, OpenMedia



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[1] Netflix fires first shot in battle with VPNs. Source. The Verge.

[2] Netflix’s VPN Ban Isn’t Good for Anyone—Especially Netflix. Source: Wired.

[3],[10] Accessing U.S. Netflix is ‘stealing,’ new Bell Media president says. Source: The Globe and Mail.

[4] Geo-blocking is an attempt to preserve an older business model. Source: Toronto Star.

[5] Netflix cracks down on customers using VPNs, proxies, and unblockers. Source: ArsTechnica.

[6] “Many people use VPN services to protect their privacy, not to fool Netflix.” Source: TorrentFreak.

[7],[9] Two New Reports Confirm: Best Way To Reduce Piracy Dramatically Is To Offer Good Legal Alternatives. Source: TechDirt.

[8] Evolving Proxy Detection as a Global Service. Source: Netflix blog.

[11] Bypass Your ISP's Throttling of Netflix or Other Videos with a VPN. Source: Lifehacker


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