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Netflix denies crackdown on VPN services

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Netflix may not be tightening its region controls after all. After a small scandal over the weekend, Netflix's chief product officer Neil Hunt told an audience at CES that the company isn't intentionally blocking VPN service and has no plans to do so. "The claims that we have changed our policy on VPN are false," he told the crowd. "People who are using a VPN to access our service from outside of the area will find that it still works exactly as it has always done."

"We are not changing our policy."

That doesn't mean VPNs are entirely in the clear. Most film and TV rights are specific to a given country or region, so Netflix is contractually obligated to try to prevent users in Brazil from watching a movie that's only licensed for the European Union. Officially, using any VPN service is against Netflix's terms of use, and the company does blacklist certain VPN networks as a result of that. But Hunt said any recent changes were the result of a new failsafe on the company's Android app that helped users having DNS problems. If VPN access shut down as a result, Hunt said, it was purely accidental.

A number of VPN services saw a spike in Netflix error rates over the weekend, leading many users to believe the company was cracking down on users trying to hop between regions. But the spike came primarily from Netflix's Android app, consistent with Hunt's technical explanation, and there's no indication yet that the spike was part of any larger crackdown. "We are not changing our policy," Hunt told the crowd. "It remains the same as it ever was."