Netflix Tosses the Baby With the VPN Bathwater
Netflix has a problem. The video streaming service is required to license TV shows and movies for every country they do business in. That’s a tall order. Netflix is a global entertainment provider. Netflix reduces their costs by only licensing certain entertainment in the country where it’s most likely to be profitable. When you sign into your Netflix account, the company knows where you’re located by your IP address. It automatically delivers only the content you’re allowed to see in your area.
That led to a certain amount of frustration with users in one country who would like to watch the same programs as viewers just over a dotted line on the map. Pretty much anything that’s available on the Internet can be acquired using another route. Netflix viewers set up interesting kludges to get around the restrictions. One of the common ways to circumvent limits on programming was by using a VPN. Since many consumers use the same Internet connection for business computer service as well as personal use, VPN use is soaring. Now Netflix wants to stop members from using VPNs while streaming video from their service. That’s bound to lead to big trouble for someone. Our business computer service and in-home computer repair techs want to make sure it isn’t you.
What’s a VPN?
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. These networks serve as proxies for your IP address. You sign up for VPN service, log onto your account, and then surf the net using their IP address. Many VPNs offer a choice between several locations, so it’s possible to look like you’re in any number of countries. Netflix didn’t get to be one of the biggest names in streaming video by being dumb. They noticed what was happening, and decided to put a stop to it.
Look Out for Lawsuits
It’s likely that Netflix was more worried about claims from the owners of copyrighted works than getting every penny from every customer. Netflix has to make their service as attractive as possible. They can’t afford to license everything they show in every country. It isn’t just a matter of money, either. Different countries have different laws about who can watch what. If you don’t cooperate, they can do more than just sue you. Netflix was probably erring on the side of caution when they decided recently to crack down on IP spoofing via VPN.
Whoa, I Use VPN for Business Computer Service
If you hear only the Netflix side of the story, you might think that a VPN is specifically designed to get around video streaming restrictions. It isn’t. Netflix is only a minor reason to get a VPN. A private network is useful for business computer service. Many companies require it for all communications between employees. With more people working out of their home offices instead of a cubicle, a default VPN link to the Internet is becoming much more common. For a host of reasons, many people will never surf the Internet without using one for safety and security.
Disabling a VPN to Watch Television Can Be Dangerous
If you relied on a business computer service to set up your remote network, the first piece of advice they’ll give you is to never disable your VPN when using public WiFi hotspots. That’s because if a hacker intercepts your signal coming to and from the VPN, that’s all the information they can see. They’re completely blocked from seeing what you’re looking at, or what they’re sending back to you.
With VPN disabled, you’re completely open to having your data stolen. If you visit a site that doesn’t have an SSL Certificate, it’s possible to intercept your login credentials as you type them. Disabling your VPN in a public place is privacy suicide. That’s exactly what Netflix expects you to do to watch House of Cards. If you’re using a business VPN to watch Netflix, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do if you disable network security and trigger a big office virus removal bill when you’re hacked.
The VPN Ban Includes Everyone
The ban on using VPNs to stream video might apply even if you’re perfectly qualified to watch the content in question. If you live in the United States, and you want to watch programming licensed for the US, you’ll still be blocked if you use a VPN. Netflix can’t tell where you are when you log on. That’s a feature, not a bug to a dedicated VPN user, but Netflix could block you anyway.
How Smart Internet Users Should React
Netflix is a terrific service, and it’s easy to see their side of the story. However, smart computer users will never disable their security programs for any reason, especially simply to watch television shows. When you’re watching from home on a standard Internet connection, the digital handshake required to launch the service will work just fine. If you’re using a VPN for business, or for anonymity on the Internet, you’d be much better off avoiding using the service anywhere where disabling your network security could lead to a disastrous hack.
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